The Orlando Public Library, the largest public library in Florida, is a noteworthy example of how historic preservation can be achieved while expanding the size of a building. After voters approved a 22-million-dollar library expansion program, the library board gave a challenge to the architect: renovate an existing 60,000-square-foot building; add almost four times as much more space; and preserve the integrity of the original, award-winning design. The expansion plus the existing structure had to become a single artistic entity when the construction was completed.
The single greatest technical problem was matching the new concrete to surfaces more than 20 years old. Today it is virtually impossible to distinguish the old and new construction. All exterior walls are rough cedar-textured reinforced concrete left as cast. Selected interior walls are of the same finish. Many interior spaces expose the concrete structure, not only of the walls, but of the waffle slab floor system. On every floor but the fourth, reading and storage areas are reached from a central core that is made up of elevators and a cast-in-place concrete stairway that is open from the ground level information desk to a roof-line skylight. Nineteen thousand cubic yards of concrete contributed to this library's expansion.