Powell Library Stairwell Restored to Original Design

Powell Library

Powell Library remains one of UCLA’s most iconic structures. Finished in 1929 as one of the first four buildings on the Westwood campus, Powell features a 63-foot-high interior dome supported on interlaced trusses with intricately painted ceiling panels. Powell houses over 200,000 volumes of books, more than 100 computer workstations and 800 seats for reading.

In September 2021, a water leak within the interior stairwell wall caused a substantial amount of damage causing the plaster walls to start disintegrating. The unfortunate event allowed the Facilities Management Paint Shop the opportunity to restore this historical stairwell to its original design.

To preserve the architectural style, a creative team of Painters and Plasterers embarked on this difficult refurbishment project. As part of the refurbishment, half of the interior stairwells were closed, while the other section was left open for public access. Following the plaster work, the task of priming, painting and faux-finishing began. Some of the techniques involved mixing colorant into a water and glaze mixture to achieve the perfect viscosity. With a rag and brush, the painters applied the right amount of pressure while keeping the finish from drying too quickly. After the walls were faux-finished, a water-based polyurethane was rolled on top to help protect the surfaces from fingerprints.

Plaster/Masons Clint Hankins, Robert Astorga, Mynor Peralta & Armando Torreblanca, Painters Claude Winiarski, Ernesto Sanchez, Joseph Burgoyne, John Lare; Lead Painter Auggie Cervantes and Supervisor Victor Garcia collaborated on the project to restore the area to its former glory.

facilities worker on scaffolding working on powell restoration
scaffolding in powell stairway
facilities worker on scaffolding working on powell restoration
powell stairs
powell stairway