Bradshaw, Gass and Hope, 1929-32. Rebuilt after war damage, completed 1961. Contemporary inter-war classical complex on wedge shaped site, consisting of D-plan Library and Registrar's Office with straight front to road, small Porter's Lodge to side and free-standing rectangular-plan Theatre (formerly Town Hall) off-centre to rear with curving colonnade corresponding to Library. Cream sandstone ashlar. Ground falls away to E.
LIBRARY (INCORPORATING REGISTRAR'S OFFICE): tall single storey with basement to E; 3-stage base course and heavy cornice. Rectangular front block 11 bays long by 3 bays deep with balustraded parapet and windows in sunken surrounds.
S (FERRY ROAD) ELEVATION: 4 broad steps with central handrail to entrance at centre; oval portico in antis with Roman Doric screen and Town crest in cartouche supported by swag above cornice; octagonal lantern; solid parapet with attic above and pairs of flanking urns. Original glazed revolving door in timber case with pair of panelled leaves; fluted Ionic pilasters with dentilled cornice and anthemion frieze and cresting; plate glass fanlight with wrought-iron fleur-de-lys grille; architraved surround. Slightly advanced 5-bay wings each with pair of flanking paterae. Inscription to far right above base course.
E AND W ELEVATIONS: 3-bay. To W, revolving door in centre bay with pair of panelled leaves and fluted frieze; 9-pane fanlight and architraved surround; blind panel above with original lamp.
READING ROOM ELEVATION: 24-bay bow with punched windows. Secondary exit at basement/ground level to E with deep-set 2-leaf door.
Metal windows with 12-pane margin; plate glass to front; alternate plate glass and 2-pane with upper swing, to sides and rear. Grey slates; piended roof; skylights to Reading Room. Original cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwaterheads.
INTERIOR: very fine classical decorative scheme; largely original. Modern glazed screen across splayed entrance to Reading Room; Registrar's Office (formerly newspaper room) to W with glazed barrel-vaulted roof, similar exhibition room to E lined with bookshelves and original counter; both divided from Reading Room by
5 glazed round-headed openings. Reading Room with semi-elliptical screen of 7 marbled Doric columns and compartmental ceiling; semi-elliptical dome at centre with 8 skylights and metal multi-pane glazing. Many original tables and chairs survive.
LEITH THEATRE AND THOMAS MORTON HALL: 2-stage 9-bay rectangular building.
S (FRONT) ELEVATION: 5 centre bays with oculi in sunken round-headed panels; advanced pedimented end pavilions containing 3 storeys; 2nd storey windows with architraves, consoled cornice and urns. At ground, curved colonnade of paired Roman Doric columns and bases in response to Library bow; corners of colonnade contain top-lit open lobbies to theatre entrances, each with 2 pairs of glazed timber doors and fanlights (main entrance to left). To W further small bay beyond end pavilion contains 4 storeys; advanced at ground (adjoining collonade to right) and adjoining single storey 5-bay hall (Thomas Morton Hall) with portico in antis; pair of Roman Doric columns and rusticated piers; 3-leaf door and fanlight, as above. To E, 2-storey 3-bay block, advanced at ground. Fly tower above E pavilion.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: upper stage of main block identical; advanced at ground to level of pavilions.
Irregular side elevations. Cornice of colonnade continues around building.
Metal multi-pane glazing with margin glazing as Library. Grey slates; top lighting. Rainwater goods as above.
INTERIOR: main entrance leads via 3 octagonal glazed wooden ticket booths divided by handrails to rotunda with paired marbled columns; statue of Circe at centre, by Arthur G Walker ARA; Imperial stair beyond and doors to halls to sides. Stair returns to landing and Registry Office at front of building with compartmentalised ceiling. To right, U-plan theatre aligned laterally with the building, with gallery and top-lit barrel-vaulted roof. To left, hall aligned longitudinally with similar roof. Much typical contemporary detailing survives.
PORTER'S LODGE: 2-storey 3-bay astylar cubic lodge to W of site; base course, cornice, and blocking course concealing roof; corner piers.
E ELEVATION: panelled door with 6-pane glazing to upper section in corniced roll-moulded door surround; flanking windows, medallion above; blank upper storey.
N AND S ELEVATION: single bay, advanced to match piers. Blank at ground to N.
W ELEVATION: irregular with off-centre 2-storey projection.
12-, 9-, and 6-pane timber sash and case windows with horns. Rainwater goods as above. Squared ashlar stacks.
GATES AND RAILINGS: elaborate geometric wrought-iron gates and flanking railings either side of Library. Spherical glass lamps crown pierced iron gatepiers.