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What's New - Portico Project: Paving the Way to a Grand Transformation

eNews Edition: Fall 2023

Contributed by David Morck

The south portico of the CSUN University Library with palm trees, planters and new pavers
A view of the South Portico from the Library with new pavers, planters and palm trees.

The iconic University Library at California State University, Northridge is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It sits in the center of campus and the Library’s Mission, Vision and Values describe it as “the intellectual heart of the CSUN campus.” With its striking grand staircase and unique architecture (designed by architecture firm Leo A. Daly), it is a building that catches the eye and welcomes you in. As Library services evolve, so does the Library.

In recent memory, the Library has improved upon its spaces for students, faculty and staff, with projects such as the Learning Commons on the Main Floor of the Library with a variety of configurable study spaces, the Freudian Sip café, our fabulous Creative Maker Studio, and Library Technology Services (which facilitates the campus’ Laptop Lending Program). Other improvements in recent years include a redesigned Special Collections & Archives space with archival storage, and the development of a Quiet Study Lounge. Library book stacks were removed on the second floor to create a spacious study space.

Originally built in 1973, the march of time has taken its toll. The South Portico of the Library was beginning to show its age: there were issues of water leaks in the tiles and planters at either side of the Library, as well as other wear and tear to the infrastructure.

south portico of the csun university library
View of the portico, grand staircase and lawn near the entrance to the Library.

The portico and grand staircase renovation project began in early June 2021. The areas targeted for renewal were sealed off by fencing and an entrance was left open on the west side of the Library. Crews began to demolish and remove tiling and the east and west planters in preparation to put the new infrastructure and pavers in place. There were a few issues that prolonged the project, such as the discovery of additional water damage and structural problems, and there were the inevitable supply-chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The enclosure not only affected foot traffic, but also events that had been planned around the portico, including graduations, which were modified to take into account the construction. And we eventually were able to use the construction webbing as a canvas to promote Library services and events. As time went on, real progress was being made. When the planters were replaced, a giant crane came and planted our new beautiful palm trees. The planters and furniture on the Garden Level of the Library were also redesigned, and additional structural improvements were made. You can see pictures of the demolition and construction in our image gallery at the bottom of the article.

In April of 2023, the portico and grand staircase reopened and visitors could enjoy the newly renovated Library portico which features the new paver tiles, improved railings, and something new to the Library, programmable colored LED lights which can be changed depending on the holiday or occasion. The final touches of the reconstruction were to add new concrete furniture, and the project officially wrapped up in August of 2023. Students, faculty, staff and the community can now overlook the CSUN campus once again from our newly renovated and beautiful South Portico at the heart of the campus.

We look forward to future graduation commencements and events taking place in the beautiful new space. As part of our celebration of the Library’s 50th anniversary, we will soon be announcing our University Library 50th Anniversary Paver Fundraiser. Donors will have the opportunity to have a paving stone engraved with their name or message to the campus included in the South Portico for future and past generations of the CSUN community to see. We will be promoting this in the near future, so keep an eye out, or come check back here in this article for details as they become available. In the meantime, other donations help fund the many services and programming we offer at the Library, so please feel free to check out our Giving Home at CSUN.

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Construction Image Gallery