WeHo preservationists try to save Fickett library

August 22, 2011

Complaining that insufficient planners paid insufficient attention to the idea of preserving Edward H. Fickett-designed West Hollywood Public Library as the city decided to replace it with a new $64 million LibraryPark, WeHo preservationists led by Heavenly Wilson seek to re-open the question.

Famed architect Edward Fickett's drawing of his 1959 West Hollywood Public Library. Click or full size

Nearly five dozen supporters turned out at the last regular City Council meeting to show their support for returning to the concept of adaptive re-use for the acclaimed architect’s work.

A recent staff survey of historic properties unearthed several deserving Fickett-designed buildings that planning staff has brought forward as deserving protection – although the library was not included in that survey.

Ms. Wilson, who ran for council in 2007 on a historic preservation platform, said in a letter to supporters that, “Edward H. Fickett was the epitome, the soul and heart of everything that inspired the creation of the city of West Hollywood.

“He was a man of the people, an architect who believed that ordinary people should be the focus and raison d'etre of public architecture, that city planning should be directed to meeting the needs of the community and that public spaces should not be used to erect monuments to personal ego.”

She accused the city of neglecting the property in anticipation of the new library, set to open in five weeks.

“The city has been acting for years like any scurrilous slum landlord by allowing the library to deteriorate and attaching fixtures to the structure that are clumsy and disproportionate,” she wrote.

The city considers the issue closed; city manager Paul Arevalo addressed queries about preserving the library as part of the park at the last council meeting by saying, “The building is slated for demolition. We’ve already approved the project; we’ve funded the project and it will move ahead.”

He noted that eight years ago the city did an environmental impact review that assessed the building’s historicity and “at that point, it was decided that, as a part of the park master plan, we would move in that direction.”