Candler library 1926; Copyright Emory University; permission pending.
The Asa Griggs Candler Library of Emory Univeristy in Atlanta Georgia was created in the 1920s and recently renovated to create a "greener" libraray using sustainable building practices and additions.


Emory University is located in Atlanta Georgia and it covers 600 acres of the Druid Hills area of Atlanta. The campus plan was drawn up by architect Henry Hornbostel, although the library architect is a different individual. There are various landmarks within this university, such as the Quadrangle ("Quad") which is the center of campus where commencement is held each year. Several of the campus buildings are listed on the National Register of Histoic Landmarks, such as the ones located around the Quad that are made of pink and gray marble. This library, the Asa Griggs Candler library, is located on the Quad and is one of the focal points of the campus.
This library was originally designed in 1926 by architect Edward Tilton. It was then the first separate library building of the university, and it became the center of that intellectual community. The library is considered a focus point of the university and is located in the center of the Emory University campus, known as the Quadrangle. Other buildings located in the “Quad” are also on the National Register of Historic Places. Well known within this library is its large reading room. This room is two stories, and was divided in half in the 1950s during a previous renovation. The current renovation project aims to restore the previous grandeur of this room to its multiple floors and wide area as well as including a 2 story separate addition to the library and making the building more “green” according to LEED standards. Another goal for this reading room is to connect this library to the Robert W. Woodruff library next door though the use of a pedestrian bride coming from this reading room.
Asa Griggs Candler Library; photo.
Another main attraction for the library is the large panels on the third floor of the library depicting the conquering troops of Alexander the Great. These 26 panels were removed during the renovations of the 1950s and during the decades of storage they were damaged by water, dust and other contaminants. They are in the process of being restored and are on display in the Woodruff Library’s Schatten Gallery.

Previous renovations have brought about some political turmoil already. In particular, the division of the reading room was hotly disputed in the 1950s renovation planning stage. Many individuals, including many on campus, petitioned the president to change his plan for dividing the reading room in half, claiming it will “ruin the aesthetics” of the library. Some even stated that the president ought to quit. Despite the many complaints, the renovation of the reading room was completed in 1957 and the room was divided to make more space for collections and to improve conditions in the two new reading rooms to include air conditioning and better lighting.

Project Description

The most recent renovation project was completed in 2003 with a budget of $17 million. The project is considered part of the LEED program, which was established by the United States Green Building Council in order to promote environmentally friendly building designs. This LEED concentration caused the contractors and architects working on the project to incorporate environmentally friendly technologies while maintaining the original design and architecture of the building. Some technologies added are: Low flow aerators for water efficiency, reducing heating and cooling requirements, reusing many of the original building components (78% of them), using recycled materials in new building components (60% of new materials were recycled), using local materials for new building materials (43% were local), reusing marble removed from the building and relocating trees that had to me moved due to the construction.

This renovation project aimed to improve both interior and exterior elements of the library as well as making the building more ”green” according to LEED standards. There are various important aspects of the interior of the library that were renovated or maintained as a part of this project. A demolition and rebuilding of various floor areas to increase shelving and reading areas. The ornamental main stairway, reading room, grand stairway and lobby components were retained and repaired to restore them to their original beauty. Restoration and expansion of the third level lobby and reading room was also a part of this project. On the fourth floor an interior skylight was restored. Exterior construction elements of the building and the two story new addition were designed to look like the original building elements: “spanish tile roof, copper and glass skylights, built-up copper gutters and leaders, ornamental copper cornices, marble exterior cladding, exterior marble stairs, dashed stucco base, fenestration patterns in marble, original doors and entranceways, torchere lamps at entrance, exterior light fixtures”.


The architect for building the original lirbary was Edward Lippincott Tilton. Tilton was born in 1861 and died in 1933. He also designed many other well known buildings, such as the Mount Pleasant Library in Washington, D.C., several Carnegie Libraries and the Olean Public Library.

Contact Info

Emory University
201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, Ga. 30322


Edward L. Tilton Information
Candler Library Image Gallery
Candler Library Renovation and Addition Page


About Emory University:
About the Renovation and Addition of Asa Griggs Candler Library:
About Edward L. Tilton: