Monday, May 5, 2014

Brand Library & Art Center: A Restored Gem in the Jewel City

1969 addition (left) connects Moorish-influenced main house

Behind the majestic Miradero gate sits a grand house — Brand Library & Art Center, Glendale's jewel for art and music.

Art Research
In college, I spent countless hours at Brand poring through art and design books for research papers. The library contains a stellar collection of fine art, design, typography, architecture and music books and a fantastic CD and video collection. My interest in visual and performing arts was nurtured at Brand, and in the 1990s I served on the Board of Directors and designed the library's quarterly publication.

The Moorish-influenced house is more like a movie set than a library, and unlike anything in Glendale. Or anywhere!

The name "Brand" is an important name in town. Leslie Coombs Brand was the "father of Glendale," a land developer and successful businessman. He passed away in 1925, and deeded his 5,000 square foot house and grounds to the City of Glendale for a library and park. The library opened in 1956, 10 years after Mrs. Brand's passing.

I recently heard a terrific lecture and tour given by Debra Gerod, FAIA, LEED AP, who directed the Brand Library restoration team. She presented an inside look at the two-year restoration and shared the challenges and triumphs of the multi-faceted project. Thank you, Debra! She is a Partner in the architectural firm Gruen Associates:

Those who haven't been to Brand Library lately will marvel at the interior colors and the details. I hardly recognized the rooms, now restored to the original 1904 look (as much as possible). I never realized that my favorite room was originally the Solarium, right in the middle of the house. In the 1980s and '90s, the room was filled with art books and didn't have much natural light. Today, the Solarium mimics the feeling of being outside. Fantastic!

Plenty of space is available for reading and doing research. Books line the walls in various rooms, and many items (110,000 books, scores, DVDs, CDs, LPs and magazines) are located in taller shelves towards the back. Brand is now accessible to the disabled, too.

A larger central courtyard and new interior lobby connects the original 1904 house and 1969 addition seamlessly. The 1969 building contains the galleries and recital hall and features a terrific skylit space. Free concerts, art and music lectures, films, exhibitions and more are offered all year: Don't miss this jewel, right here in the Jewel City.


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Restored library interior — the blue wall color is dramatic and beautiful.

Mrs. Brand's sitting room. This stunning space reminds me of one of the ladies'
salons in Bullock's Wilshire, the late, great Los Angeles department store.  

The Solarium — now the center of the renovated library.

Ceiling stencils were applied by a team of five skilled artists during the restoration.
Mr. Brand surveys his domain — this famous portrait is now on view in the house.
Mr. Brand's monogram is seen in this recently discovered pedestal hidden in an alcove for many years.

Architect Debra Gerod, FAIA, LEED AP,
Partner in Gruen Associates, led our tour.
The Brand Library CD collection is astounding — from grand opera to the latest stars.
Designers will note the Saul Bass book to the right. 
Need a music score? Brand probably has it.
Moorish-influenced architectural shapes grace sunscreen in 1969 building.
Sculptural Moorish archways: west façade of 1904 library.

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