Thursday March 22, 2018
The community has weighed in and a recommended building design concept for a new library and city hall on Market Street is on the table. The proposal will come before the city council on April 16.
The project, titled SoBu Spaces 2020, plays a part in South Burlington’s vision of creating a City Center, a place where residents and visitors can gather and celebrate. The proposed site is on over a half acre of land on Market Street, east of the Allard Square senior housing building and south of the Rick Marcotte Central School. The building is proposed to abut a new road which will be built to lead to the school.
Heading the project are Wiemann Lamphere Architects, a Colchester firm, as well as Humphries Poli, a Colorado firm which specializes in civic buildings. The first of three phases, “Re(IMAGINE): Engage,” consisted of two workshops in January to garner general feedback, two workshops in March to review three proposed alternatives, and a session on Tuesday, March 13 with a draft recommended concept based on all comments.
Additional outreach included a website survey and communication with the Library Board of Trustees, Friends of the Library, students, community groups, Public Art Committee, and city and library staff.
The draft recommendation, named Alternative D, is a product of the desires and critiques from three options shared at the March workshops: Center of Activity (Option A: two-story lobby with second floor auditorium and meeting rooms), Urban Oasis (Option B, an urban corner plaza with a third floor reading room and second floor children’s library), and Stepped Terraces (Option C, an adult collection on one floor and open terrace).
The concept shows a three-story building following the curvature of Market Street with an urban plaza in the front for outdoor events, seating, and gatherings. The building proposes generous glazing to allow for natural light.
The front entrance brings you into a lobby area with an information desk and a seating area; another entryway is located on the north end of the building. Adjacent to the information desk is the city clerk’s office and an auditorium. The lobby grants access to the rest of the first-floor library amenities, such as a multipurpose room to accommodate 30-50 people and a senior area with comfortable seating, large print books and periodicals, and a fireplace.
Also on this level, the library plans a children’s section with shelving, seating, and a place for story-time. There will be a barrier between the senior and children’s rooms, except for a line-of-sight between the service desk for both sections. Offices, a staff room, and restrooms are also included. Both the lobby and the library sections have elevators and glass stairwells leading to all three levels of the building.
The second-floor houses various seating areas and shelving with adult fiction/nonfiction and young adult literature. A series of meeting rooms line the perimeter, including a space for teens to hangout, a staff area, smaller study rooms, and city hall meeting rooms—one of which sits on top of the entry vestibule overlooking Market Street. A digital lab and maker space is situated in the center of the room surrounded by glass to showcase its activities (digital, arts and crafts, etc.), and the service desk is central for maximum assistance.
On the third floor, there are offices for the city manager and Planning and Zoning departments, and shared spaces for staff. Also located on the third floor are a quiet reading room with a fireplace and an outdoor terrace.
In its commitment to sustainability, solar panels for a portion of the roof and greenery for another portion are proposed.
“This isn’t a library for one generation. This is a library for many generations,” explained Dennis Humphries, who led the presentation. “It will be the living room of the community.”
The public library has shown full support for the process.
“I have been very pleased with the design process and the level of community participation,” South Burlington Public Library Director Jennifer Murray said. “I’m impressed with how the two architectural firms have collaborated to incorporate public and staff ideas into inspiring designs. The composite design proposes a library with wonderful spaces to inspire and engage South Burlington residents amidst the books and other collections that they count on.”
She confirmed that the Friends of the Library would move from Wheeler Nature Park to the new location and that the Recreation and Parks Department would remain at the current city hall location in the meantime.
Jennifer Kochman, chair of the Recreation and Parks Committee, expressed her support for the project at the March 13 unveiling but voiced longstanding recreation needs, such as a designated senior center. She added that there are plans for a recreation center referenced in the Capital Improvement Program and that a recreation center was in the original task force discussions for this civic building.
“The library addresses a lot of the needs for South Burlington, but we also envisioned that there be indoor recreation and program space that’s within the purview of the recreation and parks department,” she said. “I support this totally, and we will be looking at that once this is more finalized.”
The project team will be working on a cost estimate and refine the architectural details in time for the April 16 city council meeting. If endorsed by council, the public will be asked to vote on funding the project on the November 2018 ballot. If the vote passes, the project will enter the final construction phase with a goal to complete it by April 2020.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent