New library wins top regional design award

SF State's new library is not only fully accessible and state-of-the-art, it's also one of the top construction projects in the western U.S., according to the Design-Build Institute of America.

A photo of the J. Paul Leonard Library.The new J. Paul Leonard Library and Sutro Library was named the Project of the Year on May 24 by the DBIA's Western-Pacific chapter, which encompasses California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. The DBIA's annual awards honor construction projects that exemplify the principles of interdisciplinary teamwork, innovation and problem solving.

"It's a really positive statement for the campus," said Marilyn Lanier, senior associate vice president for Physical Planning and Development. "SF State was the only CSU campus to receive an award. That is a really nice compliment to the design and construction of the project. Most importantly, the library is getting positive reviews from our students, faculty and staff."

The DBIA lauded the project for its complexity and design excellence, Lanier said. Building the new library involved complex planning beyond that of a typical construction project. Workers unified and seismically retrofitted three separate buildings that were constructed in the 1950s and 1970s, replacing the buildings' plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems and creating additional library space -- all while protecting and maintaining access to the University's book collection. During the project, more than 800,000 books were relocated in less than two months to the Library Retrieval System (LRS), a computerized crane system that retrieves books automatically.

The ground through fourth floors of the library opened this spring after four years of construction. To learn more about the library, visit To see a video of the LRS in action, visit

--Jonathan Morales