West Portal Branch Facilities Survey

Image of West Portal Branch Library
Year Built: 1939
Architect: Frederick H. Meyer
Seismic Hazard Rating 3
Number of Stories Two
Type: WPA
Address: 190 Lenox Way
Gross Sq. Ft.: 6,786


The proposed modernization plan is to make the building accessible, and reduce the seismic risk while preserving the historic character of the existing building. The deficient roof and shear walls will be structurally strengthened to better withstand a major earthquake. The recommended structural retrofit is to add plywood sheathing to the roof, sway bracing, roof-wall anchors, and steel trusses. The original ceiling and wall construction will be temporarily braced throughout. Stairway, restrooms, staff room, electrical room, mechanical room will be modified or relocated to conform to accessibility requirements, life safety related code requirements and owner improvements.

New or alteration construction will meet State (Title 24) and Federal (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. Given the historic significance of the building, a careful review will be made to determine the most appropriate disabled access modifications. The anticipated disabled access work includes: adding an elevator; reconfiguring existing restrooms and adding new restrooms; adding a new fire exit stair; new counters, revised layout; and modified doors.

Conformance with the latest life safety code requirements will include: providing a larger electrical room, larger mechanical room; wider fire exit stair; new accessible restrooms, and wider library aisles. Building code impacts involve the updating of the heating, ventilating, plumbing, fire protection, electrical and other building control systems.

Current law requires removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), such as plasterboard walls, floor tiles, and roofing related to the seismic retrofit and disabled access work. The removal of ACMs will require relocation of the building occupants to eliminate health risks associated with exposure to airborne particles. Lead that is impacted will also have to be abated.

The recommended modernization plan includes a minimal expansion at the rear of the building to recoup space lost due to disabled access and seismic work. The branch is located at the bottom of a hill and the Main entrance is on the second level in the front of the building. Other work includes upgrading the HVAC system, updating data/electrical outlets, replacing flooring, improving lighting, replacing windows, refinishing wood surfaces, painting, and landscape restoration.



  1. The load path is deficient as follows:
    1. There are no ties at the reentrant corners.
    2. The roof diaphragm chords are overstressed in the north-south and east-west directions.
    3. The floor diaphragm chords are overstressed in the north-south direction.
  2. There is significant torsion because of the irregular shape of the building.
  3. There are non-reinforced hollow clay tile partitions around the basement furnace room and corridor.

Non-Structural Deficiencies

  1. There are non-reinforced hollow clay tile partitions around the basement furnace room & corridor.
  2. The suspended plaster ceiling is only partially braced in the entrance lobby.
  3. The furnace and hot water heater are not braced or anchored.
  4. There are unanchored tall storage racks and bookcases.


  1. Provide chords at the roof and floor diaphragm.
  2. Provide ties at reentrant corners at the floor to provide a delivery path for lateral forces.
  3. Provide ties between the isolated column footings in accordance with the recommendations of the geo-technical engineer.
  4. Replace the hollow clay tile partition at the ground floor corridor and stairway with metal studs and fire rated gypsum board partitions.
  5. Brace the suspended plaster ceilings and ornamental chandelier at the entrance lobby and the pendant fixture in the alcove to prevent blocking of the exit if they fall.
  6. Brace/Anchor the furnace and hot water heater to prevent the breakage of gas lines and the possibility of fire.
  7. Brace/Anchor the tall storage racks and bookcases.


  1. The first and second floors are not accessible to patrons and staffs with disabilities.
  2. Work areas and service counters are not accessible.
  3. Existing toilets are not accessible.
  4. Existing doors are not accessible (too narrow) or do not have accessible hardware.


  1. Install elevator.
  2. Make work areas and service counters accessible.
  3. Renovate existing toilets to make them accessible and provide new fixtures as required.
  4. Widen existing door openings and install new doors and accessible hardware as required.


  1. Existing boiler is in need of replacement.
  2. Air circulation is very poor and reliant upon a radiant heating system.
  3. Existing water heater and water pipes are old and inefficient.


  1. Install new boiler and preserve radiators.
  2. Install a forced air ventilation system.
  3. Install new water heater and water pipes.
  4. Replace existing ducts and piping as required.
  5. Provide continuous ventilation in all restrooms during hours of library operation.


  1. The existing electrical panel, equipment, and distribution system was found to be old and poorly wired and with not enough capacity to handle the load of the proposed expansion.
  2. Existing light fixtures are inefficient and not appropriate for the historic character of the building.
  3. There are not enough electrical outlets to work with a flexible layout.
  4. Need to upgrade existing telecommunication panel and data line distribution system.


  1. Install a new main service panel and sub-panels to serve the proposed new electric loads.
  2. Replace existing light fixtures with new energy efficient and historically appropriate fixtures.
  3. Check and upgrade or replace wiring and conduits as required.
  4. Install additional data/communication outlets.
  5. Install new telecommunication panel.


  1. Need fire alarm and smoke detectors.
  2. Need additional exiting signs in the building.
  3. Need emergency lighting.
  4. Need additional fire extinguishers in the building.
  5. Not enough security lights in and around the building.
  6. Existing security window and door grilles need to be replaced.


  1. Install new smoke detectors and fire alarm.
  2. Install new exit signs and emergency lights.
  3. Install new fire extinguishers at strategic locations in the building.
  4. Install new interior and exterior security lights.
  5. Install new security grilles for doors and windows.


  1. Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM’s) are identified throughout the building.


  1. Where impacted by construction, abate asbestos in the vinyl floor tiles/sheet and mastics, and steam piping/fitting insulation.
  2. Abate asbestos if found in grout and mastic associated with ceramic floor/wall tiles.
  3. Lead that is impacted by construction shall also be mitigated.


  1. With the seismic retrofit work, valuable library floor space will be lost.
  2. Very small 1st floor staff work area and storage areas need to be enlarged.


  1. Improvements will include a minimal expansion at the rear of the building to accommodate the increased public use of library and much needed staff work area.
  2. Modify or replace existing windows with new operable windows for better air circulation in a way that preserves the historic character of the structure.


  1. Landscaping around the building is well maintained but does block visibility.


  1. Develop a landscape protection, restoration, and maintenance plan.
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