Sunday, May 27, 2007

I’m Concerned About The Central Branch, But I’m Not On The Building Committee. Can I Still Get Involved?

Yes, you can, and the Building Committee wants your help.

Since the Building Committee began meeting weekly (Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m., check the Library’s website ( for the location), a number of Grosse Pointe residents have been attending the meetings regularly. While they are technically not members of the Building Committee, because the meetings are rather informal, they often ask questions and offer comments during the Committee discussions. Most of the time there are sufficient copies of the documents that the Building Committee members receive during the meeting that the audience is able to have their own copies, so they get the same information as the Committee members.

The Building Committee faces a number of difficult and emotional issues regarding the Central Branch, such as whether the existing Marcel Breuer-designed building can be updated so as to avoid demolition, and how parking requirements are going to be met. The Committee wants to make the best possible recommendations to the Library Board and, in order to do that, it needs to hear from the public to ensure that different views, opinions, and ideas are all considered.

Those members of the public attending the meetings have not been shy with their opinions, and this is just the way the Building Committee wants it. These people regularly contribute to the meetings with their comments, opinions, and even their criticisms. As the Committee discusses how additional space can be used and allocated in an expanded-Central Branch, people voice their thoughts of what works, what doesn’t work, what they like and don’t like, about the other new branches in the Park and the Woods. This input is invaluable for designing the Central Branch, especially as the nature of libraries and how they are utilized continues to rapidly change.

So, attend a meeting or two and let the Building Committee know what you think.

Friday, May 25, 2007

designLab to Meet with Building Committee

Bob Miklos and Scott Slarsky of designLab Architects will join the Central building committee at the meeting on Wednesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m. at the Ewald Branch. The public is encouraged to come and meet the architects, as well as to take the opportunity early on in the project to express their ideas, needs and interests for the Central Library. In the meantime, check out their website to see some of their outstanding work. This photo shows the two architects demonstrating their approach to the project -- with models -- at the Library Board meeting on April 30.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Development May Affect Central Branch Issues

Plans are beginning to emerge regarding a new office/community building that the City of Grosse Pointe Park may build on the property in front of the Ewald Branch fronting Jefferson Avenue. The City and some members of the Board of Trustees have met and the City has offered to allow the Library to lease space in the new building. The Building Committee has begun to discuss the possibility of moving some of the Library’s administrative and technical services to this new building.

This may be significant because the Central Branch would have housed these services and, by being able to move them out of the Central Branch, this means that less space may be needed there. The Central Branch is located on a small piece of property. The property is already fully-utilized by either the present building or parking. Because the plan is to expand the overall square footage – regardless of whether the current building is used or replaced – any savings from transferring services to another branch or building will ease the overall space concerns. And, since expanding the building size means decreasing parking space, if that expansion can be limited, the parking issues will be easier to solve.

It is too early to tell if transferring Administration will increase the likelihood that the current Breuer-designed building can be saved. Before that can be assessed, more details will be needed regarding 1) the Park’s new building; 2) how much space can be saved by transferring Administration; and 3) the architect’s analysis. (The architect will be selected within a few weeks.)

Whether this will have much of an effect on overall cost cannot be determined at this early date. Factors such as how much overall space can be saved in construction, how much space will need to be leased, and the rent must all be considered. In construction, the cost would be up-front (at the time of the building), when renting, the cost (paying rent and any build-out) can be spread over the term of the lease and any extensions.

While little detail is known regarding this new building and exactly how it will impact the Central Branch expansion, it is an encouraging development.