Central Library Building in Houston

Photo of Central Library Building in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

Central Library Building

500 McKinney Street, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77002
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Another victim of the 1960’s thought that huge slabs of concrete are the wave of the future. But the library’s windowless façade helps keep damaging sunlight off of the thousands of volumes inside. The library’s architecture is best appreciated from its overcrowded interior. It has some of the best dramatic views of downtown in the city. The main entrance features a three-story atrium notched into the brown cube of the building. The rear also features large curtain windows facing out on the west end of the downtown performing arts district, anchored by the Hobby Center. The sculpture outside is "Geometric Mouse, Scale X" by Claes Oldenburg. It was the first piece of public art in downtown Houston, and sits on a plaza that leaks water into the underground offices when it rains. Plastic sheeting has become standard issue for library office workers who have to defend their computers from the elements.

Quick Facts
  • 1975: Construction ends.
  • 2006: The library closes for renovation.
  • May 31, 2008: Grand re-opening of the library after an extensive renovation.
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