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Highlights Archives

Library Reading Room Renovation Lauded


The renovated and restored Library Reading Room, with replicated skylight and brass table lamps, which provide both illumination and outlets to power patrons' laptops

The renovation and restoration of the Society's grand Library Reading Room has earned Isthmus Architecture, the Madison architectural firm that guided the project to completion, a prestigious Honor Award from AIA Wisconsin, the Wisconsin society of the American Institute of Architects. The Society's project was one of five in the state recognized by AIA Wisconsin for overall architectural design excellence.

A Room Transformed

A section of the replicated skylight
A section of the replicated skylight

What began as a simple request to replace the room's carpeting evolved into a complete renovation and restoration of the room that transformed it into a thoroughly modern 21st-century library but one that remains true to the character of its ornate turn-of-the-20th-century architectural magnificence. Among the changes was a new sub-floor electrical grid that delivers power to the replicated brass table lamps, which provide both illumination and outlets to power patrons' laptops.

'A Gift to the People of Wisconsin'

The replication of the room's original stained-glass skylight, surrounded by ceiling coffers gleaming with gilded highlights including two-foot diameter plaster rosettes, impressed the judges the most. "Our favorite part is the restoration of the skylights and the ceiling," the jury wrote, adding, "The care taken with those skylights was extraordinary — it's a spectacular ceiling. This masterfully done restoration is a sample of civic grandeur and preservation. It is a gift to the people of Wisconsin."

:: Posted May 19, 2011

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