Doheny Library shines after a two-year earthquake retrofit and deep-cleaning that conservationists call an exemplary preservation project.
|ONE OF USC'S GREAT architectural treasures, the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library, reopened this fall after nearly two years of intricate structural work costing more than $17 million.
The Doheny Library is simply stunning, says Jerry Campbell, dean of university libraries. I am certain that it has not been in such good shape since its original opening.
When the librarys doors were closed in late 1999 for a seismic retrofit, USC officials took the opportunity to also install fire sprinklers and give the building an intensive cleaning. For the first time in the Dohenys 69-year history, its exterior was thoroughly bathed. Portions of the librarys 168,000-square-foot interior were also scrubbed and refurbished. A big challenge was removing tobacco and soot stains left after years of cigarette smoking in the library. Workers used cotton swabs and distilled water to wash much of the delicate surfaces and ceilings, including gold leaf details.
The bulk of the project, however, was less aesthetic than structural. For the earthquake upgrades, 17 walls had to be dismantled to make way for stronger concrete shear walls. Delicately crafted veneers from wood paneling to painted details had to be removed, then meticulously put back in place. Coffered ceilings with decorative moldings and large plaster flowers were taken down in fragments, then replaced like the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.
It was a marvelous feat of engineering and design, says Campbell. Remarkably, these tremendous life-saving changes are invisible.
BUT NOT SO INVISIBLE as to escape the admiring scrutiny of architectural conservationists. The Los Angeles Conservancy recognized the Doheny upgrade as one of seven exemplary preservation projects at its 20th annual Preservation Awards.
The project has resulted in a reawakening of Doheny Librarys stature, beauty and usefulness as a central campus resource, exemplifying USCs ongoing commitment to stay in the heart of Los Angeles and reinvest in its historic campus architecture, says conservancy spokesman Ken Bernstein.
Designed by architect Samuel Lunden, the library was erected in 1932 with a $1 million gift from Edward and Estelle Doheny, given in memory of their son, Edward L. Doheny Jr., who died in 1929.
From the Ashes
If you thought the embryonic stem cell debate was hairy, wait till the neurochip debate begins. Fasten your seatbelts, warns USC neuropharmacologist Roberta Brinton, as we enter the brave new world of human flesh grown on chips. (William Gibson wasnt so far off.) In a Boston Globe article, Brinton described her labs efforts to develop silicon chips that can communicate with and even stand in for damaged brain and nerve cells. The same technology, she says, might go beyond repairing lost function and lead to superhuman bionics and even mind control.
As the boundaries between man and machine erode, scientists like Brinton warn of difficult ethical territory ahead. Its time, says Brinton, to begin the public debate on these possibilities.
|Painting Illustration by Michael Klein / Face illustration by A.J. Garces / McCarthy Quad rendering by Mikio Kimoto /Photo by Irene Fertik|