Charles E. Young Research Library
The Charles E. Young Research Library, seated at the northern edge of a bustling UCLA campus, is considered by many to be a classic piece of Mid-Century Modern architecture, and a prime example of the innovative work done by A. Quincy Jones—himself a master of modernism and the dean of USC’s School of Architecture from 1951 to 1967.
The library has been serving graduate students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences since first opening in 1964, and it can be said that the building’s concrete skeleton, dark glass windows and deep floorplate reflect the weight and significance of the research happening inside.
The library is named after the university's former chancellor of 29 years, Charles E. Young Research Library. The upper floors of this library is meant mainly for faculty and graduate students who wish to conduct research (and the collections inside the library reflect its research orientation). The library holds resources in the humanities, social sciences, education, public affairs, government information, journals, newspapers, and maps.
In 1950, the late Ray Bradbury—a dedicated autodidact who spent three days a week at libraries in lieu of enrolling in college—entered the typewriter-rental room in the basement of UCLA’s Powell Library. With a roll of dimes and the kernel of a story, he holed up in front of a Royal typewriter and pounded out Fahrenheit 451, the cri de coeur for the importance of books that launched his long career. All it took was nine days and 98 dimes.
When Perkins+Will Architects was tasked with pre-design, programming and design services for the Charles E. Young Research Library's common areas (the traditional book stacks on the upper floors were not touched) the team began meeting with different constituent groups to get a sense of what they would like to see in the new space. But the main push for a wholesale transformation of the building’s common areas came from UCLA University Librarian Gary Strong and Deputy University Librarian Susan Parker, both of whom understood the importance of introducing technology and collaborative thinking to the world of academic research. Because this is an A. Quincy Jones building, the question of preservation loomed large. While the team retained the signature open staircase that runs through three floors of the building, they also added an scrolling ticker whose continuously scrolling text reminds users that there are floors above and below to explore. The original load-bearing concrete columns, which are spaced every 20 feet, were stripped of paint in order to expose the imprint of wood forms. “We wanted to show that there was a patina of age,” Kerrigan says. As part of Perkins+Will’s (P+W) update of the classic 1964 Charles E. Young Research Library building, which was designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons, the library Cafe was named Cafe 451 after Fahrenheit 451 from the late Ray Bradbury and a Bradbury quote was painted in a much-traveled stairwell: “Without libraries, what have we? We have no past, and no future.” The question posed by this renovation is not much different: How can a library remember its past, yet look toward the future? 
The library’s biggest celebration of that act can be seen in its new research commons. Featuring 22 technology-enabled “pods” capable of accommodating up to 10 users, the area has been built specifically to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and discovery through serendipity. Each pod is equipped with Steelcase’s media:scape platform, allowing students and faculty to share content on laptops and other devices on large LCD monitors. Collaborative furniture from the media:scape line facilitates focused group work, but also encourages people to mix and mingle between pods. 
Thanks to the university’s emphasis on sustainability—as of 2009, all new buildings and major retrofits at UCLA target LEED Silver certification or higher — the Young Research Library is also a healthier, greener place to study. Interior renovations are expected to achieve LEED Gold certification due to the use of efficient plumbing and lighting products, locally manufactured building materials and low-emitting products. The design team was able to reduce indoor water usage 53 percent below EPA standards, and lighting power usage 36 percent below California’s Title 24 standard. 
Taken as a whole, the library’s reinvigorated spirit illustrates the transformative power of design. Students and staff continue to utilize the facility in record numbers—more than 195,000 people visited the library in the fall quarter of 2011, more than double the year before—while outside designers and administrators visit to see the change for themselves. 
Renovation Project Team
Perkins+Will Jo Carmen, managing/design principal Nick Seierup, design principal James Kerrigan, senior interior designer Angela Kunz, project manager Neville Salvador, project architect Vajra Hodges, arch II