Library Deconstruction Projects


Project Diversion

Library Sites Map

Library Sites

Pacific Palisades

Library Sites Photographs

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Under the 1998 Library Bond Program, 32 branch libraries in the City of Los Angeles were selected for reconstruction, construction and expansion to meet the scholastic and cultural needs of the surrounding communities. Of the 32 libraries selected, 5 library sites were specifically chosen for deconstruction: the careful disassembly of buildings to maximize the reuse and recycling of the materials. Using funds from the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the City of Los Angeles included Edendale, Encino-Tarzana, Palms-Rancho, Pacific Palisades, and Arroyo Seco library sites in its new deconstruction program.  In a unique collaboration, the City's Environmental Affairs Department and Bureau of Engineering marked specific construction materials for their reuse or recycling potential.


Unlike traditional demolition, deconstruction minimizes the amount of Construction and Demolition debris (C&D) from entering our landfills and reduces the demand for raw materials. Deconstruction material, such as metal, brick, and various woodwork can be resold for profit. Construction materials such as concrete, asphalt, and scrap metal can be successfully recycled at little or no cost.

Project Diversion
With the City's new Deconstruction Program, essential construction materials that may have gone to the waste stream under general demolition procedures, were carefully dismantled, relocated, and or sorted for recycling and reuse. Material such as library shelves, bricks, wood beams, site vegetation and miscellaneous items were successfully salvaged for reconstruction, construction and artistic decoration.  Several hundred tons of inert material and scrap metal were sorted on site and taken to recycling facilities.  Remaining material not suitable for recycling and reuse were transported to landfills.  Over 2900 tons of reusable and recyclable material was diverted from local landfills.  A preview of diverted materials for the 5 library sites are provided below.

Library Projects



Library Sites MapLibrary Sites Map




Library Sites


Unlike other sites marked for deconstruction, the Edendale site was a Peerless hardware store, built in 1910 and  with two large multi-family homes dating back to the 1920's. The hardware store contained valuable construction material including wood beams, bricks, vintage wood and aluminum doors which were carefully dismantled, sold, and/or donated for reuse. 

Half of the total recovered red brick were reserved for the new Edendale Library plaza. Other material recovered such as asphalt, concrete, and scrap metal were sorted and taken to nearby recycling facilities.  Approximately 15% of the total material on site was salvaged and 79% recycled or accepted as Average Daily Cover (ADC).

The two homes are scheduled for relocation within the Echo Park community.

Diversion highlights at Edendale were:

  • 12 tons  of black interior metal work recycled and 3 tons salvaged 

  • All aluminum from facility was recycled

  • Approx. 14 tons of wood and 15 tons of steel columns were salvaged and reused for construction

  • 59,500 red Simons bricks were salvaged

  • 756 tons of inert material such as concrete and asphalt were recycled and used as base material

  • 2,000 sq. ft. of hardwood flooring was reused

The contractor acquired $17,470 for the salvaged materials, $15,000 of which came from historic brick sales. Recycling costs for various materials such as concrete and metal amounted to $2,357. Landfill tipping fees were $1,523. Minus the fees paid for recycling and dumping, the contractor achieved a net gain of $13,590 for the materials component of the project.




The Palms Rancho Library, located at 2920 Overland Ave, completed deconstruction /soft demolition in May 2001. The 1960’s era library was primarily built with reinforced brick, wood, and concrete. Overall, deconstruction occurred mostly as intended, with significant recovery of glue lam beams, lumber, metal, fixtures, shelving, doors, travertine tiles, etc. Due to the complex nature of the brick construction, the project team expected and specified minimal brick salvage. Inside were several tons of reusable library furniture such as shelving, tables and chairs. All  furniture was donated to neighbors and had various end uses. One resident used the acquired library shelving as hardwood flooring and new cabinets for a home improvement project. Another individual used the shelving to create frames and various artworks.  

Some of the diversion highlights at the Palms-Rancho Library site were: 

  • 250 square feet of glass and 50 decorative sandstone tiles salvaged 

  • 10 60 ft glue lam beam salvaged and sold

  • Over 226 tons of concrete and 10 tons of asphalt recycled into base material

  • 3.5-4 tons of book shelving donated to local schools, businesses, and residents

  • 20 tons of iron recycled

  • 15 aluminum window frames and 9 door frames recycled

Although no profit was made through donation, the dismantling of wood furniture for reuse benefited several individuals and successfully aided in the waste diversion process. 




The 1960’s Encino-Tarzana library located at 18231 Ventura Blvd. and an adjacent house were marked for deconstruction/soft demolition for the new and expanded library facility. All bookshelves were donated to nearby schools and one nonprofit organization. Three queen palm trees on the library site were donated to a non-profit home care facility for the elderly. The library structure contained significant reinforced brick material. Similar brick composition for libraries built during this time period were deemed unsuitable for the dismantling process. All brick and concrete on-site were taken to a local materials company for base material use.

Items recovered include:

  • 150 square feet of hardwood flooring salvaged 

  • All freestanding interior bookshelves and perimeter bookshelves donated to various schools and non-profit organization

  • 131 tons of concrete crushed on site for base material (for new parking lot) 

  • 1500 red bricks from chimney recovered and sold

  • 4 interior and 1 exterior door salvaged and sold

  • 20 sheets of 4'x8'x1/2" plywood recovered and sold

  • 3 palm trees relocated, 1 eucalyptus and pine tree recycled

  • 1 hot water heater donated

  • 3 HVAC units donated

The house was deconstructed to extent feasible given lead-based paint and asbestos constraints. A brief change order to the previous scheduled demolition specified the deconstruction activities.   Deconstruction of house portion completed in late May 2001.




Pacific Palisades

The old Palisades Library building, located at 861 Alma Real Drive used reinforced brick as a primary structural material. Initial hopes of the program were for significant salvage of brick for reuse in the new library and for resale off-site. The overall deconstruction occurred mostly as intended, with significant recovery of glue lam beams, lumber, metal, fixtures, shelving, doors, plants, etc. However, the brick deconstruction proved to be more difficult than the initial testing indicated as the cement between the bricks was equal nearly in composition to the brick, hindering any salvage potential. The testing removed what turned out to be the easiest bricks, the end ones on a wall with particularly soft mortar. The crews made attempts to remove the middle bricks on different walls with diamond saws, power chisels, and manual methods and found that the brick material would generally break apart before full removal.

Material diversion from the Palisades site included:

  • 25 60' glue lam beams salvaged and sold 

  • 150 red paving brick salvaged for reuse in new library 

  • 35 aluminum window frames and 12 door frames salvaged

  • 4 8' outdoor lamp posts donated Pacific Palisades Pic

  • Trees and rosebushes donated to nearby residents

  • 23 10' metal columns recycled

  • 7 wood doors donated to nearby park personnel

  • 350 sheets of wood trim from upper parapet salvaged and sold

  • All furniture including Isle and wall book shelves, chairs and tables were donated

  • 1 water heater 

 Deconstruction at the library completed in late May 2001.



Arroyo Seco

Before deconstruction and soft demolition, the Arroyo Seco Library, located at 6145 N. Figueroa was a two-story facility composed largely of reinforced concrete but distinct for its eccentric art fresco that decorated the face of the building. The mural painted on two sides of a concrete wall and weighing approximately 8 tons was relocated on site and preserved for the benefit of the community.

Notable materials salvaged and or recycled from the Arroyo Seco library were:

  • 8 ton concrete wall with mural was salvaged for new library 

  • 3.5 tons of wood shelving donated to neighbors

  • 226 tons of concrete and 10 tons of asphalt recycled

  • 20 tons of scrap metal recycled

  • Cast iron grating set aside for reuse in new library

  • 2 air conditioning units 

Deconstruction at the Arroyo-Seco library site was completed in November 2001.


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