World's Most Beautiful Unknown Libraries: Pasadena Central Public
Pasadena’s Central Library is a combination of Spanish and Classical elements, combined with a free and innovative hand by one of the twentieth century’s most neglected great architects, Myron Hunt. The library was built as part of Pasadena’s 1920s revamp of it’s major civic buildings – Pasadena’s City Hall, with a similar, though more formal, mix of Spanish and Neoclassical elements, was built simultaneously. The exterior of the library provides an interesting visual conflict. A brutally simple wall is topped by heavily elaborated Corinthian windows peeping out above. After clearing this wall, the visitor enters a courtyard of unexpected interest. We now see a full-fledged, quite elaborate façade.
Hunt however maintains his contrast between lavish decoration and severe, even brutal plainness – while the entrance façade is lavish, the rest of the courtyard is an almost minimalist expanse, relieved only by a very simple fountain.
The main hall of the Pasadena Library is the most imposing interior feature. Extending over two hundred feet from the building’s end to end, it’s a vast churchlike space with only the most minimal of decoration.
Though Hunt's work initially appears to be merely a sophisticated gloss upon versions of Spanish revivalism if not examined closely, the Pasadena Central Library shows Hunt to be highly adept at combining revival elements with a free and unique hand. And you have to love the palm trees poking out from the courtyard.