West Hollywood Library, an Edward Fickett Artifact, Demolished Days Before Grand Opening of New $64 Million Version

Poor library. If only Fickett could see you now.
Poor library. If only Fickett could see you now.
vokoban via Flickr

West Hollywood City Councilmembers and their right-hand planning staff have a history of imposing their own architectural desires on the LGBT townspeople.

You'd think, in a town of gays, you could find someone with a little taste (and we mean that in the best way possible). But no: In this rapidly expanding Boystown, tucked between pleasant Beverly Hills and ghetto-ass Hollywood, the bigger and shinier -- and more lucrative -- the better.

So when it came time to design their own digs, councilmembers went a little nuts. So in lust are they with the $64 million library complex that they've commissioned to house council chambers...

... that they thought it necessary to dramatically demolish the (perfectly lovely) old library, designed by "underrated" L.A. architect Edward Fickett, before the new one opens this Saturday.

As if installing tennis courts on the roof of the new guy wasn't enough to underscore its space-age superiority. Guess which one is which:

West Hollywood Library, an Edward Fickett Artifact, Demolished Days Before Grand Opening of New $64 Million Version
Michael Jiroch via Panoramio

Heartbreakingly, the "Save West Hollywood Library - Edward Fickett, 1960s" Facebook page hasn't caught wind yet that the fight is over. But LA Curbed found a bunch of photos of the old library -- now more a pile of rubble than a brick-and-glass relic -- posted on Flickr Wednesday morning.

WeHo News reports that activists probably should have seen this coming: City Manager Paul Arevalo declared at an August council meeting that "the building is slated for demolition. We've already approved the project; we've funded the project and it will move ahead." (Hm. You've got a pretty compelling point there, Paul!)

And Assistant City Manager Joan English told the local paper that "the council voted to move forward with this phase September 6. The contractor then mobilized, and made arrangements to remove the hazardous material out of the library and proceed with the demolition."

Guess that's that. Yay for coldhearted,

overpaid city employees!

The latest demolition is part of the West Hollywood Park Master Plan, whose terrifying moniker is overshadowed only by that of its umbrella initiative, the 25th Anniversary Capital Project. Muahaha!

One grieving

architectural blog points out that the city's 2004 ruling that Fickett's library design "was not historically significant enough to avoid demolition" might be antiquated by now:

Edward H. Fickett was a prolific designer in the 1950s and 60s whose imprint can be seen in the city's wealthiest neighborhoods and in public spaces like the Port of Los Angeles, as well as all over the San Fernando Valley, where he pioneered low-cost housing concepts.

... Since 2004 appreciation for architecture from Fickett's era has grown significantly. "This is a great little gem of a building," said the Los Angeles Conservancy's Adrian Scott Fine. "If a historical analysis were done today, it might have a completely different outcome."

R.I.P., old West Hollywood Library. We can't say we exactly enjoyed sitting through eight-hour planning commission meetings in the old brick building across from the way, but at least we could behold your loveliness.

Same cannot be said for that monstrosity on the corner. Which, on top of its unfriendly aesthetics, and despite its size, won't fit as many public commenters. Convenient! If Shepard Fairey really wanted to earn some activist street cred back, maybe he could have thrown up a pricey mural on the side of the Fickett, right before they tore it down. Now we're just stuck with a weird, out-of-place ethnic elephant on the side of a megamall.


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