Downtown’s ‘Top Buildings’: Libraries, old and new
The former Haydon Burns Library on Ocean Street.
The Lovett Courtyard at the Main Library on Laura Street.
The Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has selected 100 examples of architecture for a competition to determine the “top building” in the state as part of the organization’s centennial celebration.

Architects and the public are invited to cast their ballots at

aiafla.org. Voting closes April 6.

Voters can vote as many times and for as many buildings as they wish.

Seven of Downtown’s distinctive historic structures are in the running for the title. Downtown Today will highlight the neighborhood’s entries between now and the end of the contest.

• The Library, formerly the Haydon Burns Public Library

• Built in 1965, designed by Hardwick and Lee Architects

When it opened in 1965, the Haydon Burns Library on Ocean Street between Forsyth and Adams streets replaced the Carnegie Library. That structure is now the offices of the Bedell Firm.

The Haydon Burns Library is considered architecturally significant because it reflects the trends in the industry and the historical context of Downtown during the period of 1955-65.

Named after a former mayor who served for 15 years before he was elected governor of Florida in 1964, the three-story library was designed by architect Taylor Hardwick, who also designed the original Friendship Park on the Southbank and the Skinner Dairy retail stores.

The building’s “appropriately-scaled detailing of ceramic and glazed tile, glazed brick and rhythmic concrete fins is exemplary of one of the more humane branches of the Modern Movement,” wrote architectural historians and national historic preservation consultants James C. Massey and Shirley Maxwell.

After the Better Jacksonville Plan resulted in construction of a new Downtown library at Hemming Plaza, the Haydon Burns Library closed in September 2005.

Fourteen months later, the site was purchased from the City by Main Branch LLC, which plans to convert the building into a mixed-use adaptive redevelopment.

• The Main Library, 303 N. Laura St.

• Built in 2005, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA

Architect Robert A.M. Stern described the concept behind his design for the Main Library on Laura Street at Hemming Plaza as “a state-of-the-art facility that is also a great public place.”

He also called it “a destination without peer in the city.”

When it opened in 2005, the five-level building added a massive edifice to the streetscape around Downtown’s central park.

The entrance on Laura opens into an expansive entry hall leading to a central staircase. At the top of the stairs is the “Grand Reading Room,” with a 46-foot ceiling and clerestory windows, inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and the world’s great cathedrals.

At the Main Street entrance, the library’s Conference Center offers space for meetings and other functions. In addition to 20,000 square feet of meeting space, the center also has the 391-seat Hicks Auditorium, used for stage performances and film screenings.

At the second floor, the Lovett Courtyard with its fountain and landscaping provides an oasis in the middle of the urban environment. Around the courtyard are grouped the library’s intimate reading areas, many of which open directly to the space.



Wednesday, March 28
Artist Series presents: “Jersey Boys”
7:30 p.m.
Times-Union Center
Info: artistseriesjax.org

Thursday, March 29
Artist Series presents: “Jersey Boys”
1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Times-Union Center
Info: artistseriesjax.org

Friday, March 30
$5 Friday
10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Museum of Science & History
Info: themosh.org

Farmers and Art Market
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Landing
Info: 353-1188

Artist Series presents: “Jersey Boys”
8 p.m.
Times-Union Center
Info: artistseriesjax.org

Saturday, March 31
Riverside Arts Market
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Northbank Riverwalk Artists Square
Info: riversideartsmarket.com

Artist Series presents: “Jersey Boys”
2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Times-Union Center
Info: artistseriesjax.org

Sunday, April 1
Bank of America Family Free Day and ArtFusion
Noon-4 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Info: mocajacksonville.org

Artist Series presents: “Jersey Boys”
1:30 p.m.
Times-Union Center
Info: artistseriesjax.org

Monday, April 2
“Strange Matter”
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Museum of Science & History
Info: themosh.org

Tuesday, April 3
Downtown Walking Tour
10 a.m.
The Landing
Info: adlibtours.com

Project Atrium:
Mark Licari
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Info: mocajacksonville.com

Wednesday, April 4
First Wednesday Art Walk
5-9 p.m.
Various venues
Info: downtownjacksonville.org
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