Julia Ideson Library

View of Julia Ideson Library courtyard and building

Designed by the noted Boston architecture firm Cram & Ferguson, the Julia Ideson building opened in 1926 as the centerpiece of a planned five-building civic center in downtown Houston. In 2007, a capital campaign was launched to build a new archival wing and enrich this historic building. Cardno provided structural engineering for the addition and renovation.

The project, located at 500 McKinney, consists of a 24,500-sf state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive archival storage wing on the south side of the building, following the original plans of Ralph Adams Cram, with an adjacent loggia and outdoor space. The wing was built to house the valuable archives of the Houston Public Library’s Houston Metropolitan Research Center. The project team also worked to preserve the architectural integrity of the original building (62,000 sf) and restore its public spaces to their original grandeur.  

The addition provides space for an archival reading room at the ground floor and archival storage at the second and third floors. Archival storage areas were designed to accommodate high density loading for efficient stacking of archives. The typical floor framing for the ground floor and archival storage floors consists of a cast-in-place, mild steel reinforced concrete, two-way slab system. The foundation structure is combined footings. The loggia roof is framed with structural steel.