Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Architects Meet The Public To Get Input On The Central Branch Project

On June 6th, the architects for the Central Branch Projects made their first public appearance to discuss the project, their plans, and their design philosophy. Bob Miklos and Scott Slarsky, from Boston-based designLAB, came to Grosse Pointe for three days of meetings with the Library staff, Building Committee and Board members, and the public.

At the June 6th public meeting, held at the Ewald Branch, approximately 60 people listened as Mr. Miklos and Mr. Slarsky gave a short presentation of their thoughts regarding this project and Marcel Breuer. Mr. Miklos’ and Mr. Slarsky’s enthusiasm for the project was contagious as they discussed how they will be researching all of Breuer’s buildings, paying particular attention to the Central Branch, in order to develop an understanding of Breuer’s overall philosophy and his thinking regarding our library. Mr. Miklos specifically discussed how he would be investigating, along with a landscape architect with whom he has worked on 6 prior library projects, designing a terrace or courtyard as a way to continue the openness of the present building and to provide a beautiful place to relax, read, and socialize.

Following the presentation, the architects reversed roles by seeking input from the audience about what issues were important to them and the community. For an hour, the architects listened to comments and took questions from the audience. The comments and questions ranged from consideration of putting the book stacks underground in order to preserve the open, airy, and well-lit reading room on the main floor, to discussions of handling and storage of the branch’s art pieces, and ensuring that the designs would not overwhelm or detract from the original Breuer design.

One specific area of interest was the materials used by Breuer. When he designed the building, Breuer also designed all aspects of the interior including the wall coverings and furniture. While the architects believe that some of the wall coverings may be past their prime, especially in terms of noise-dampening, they are confident that they will be able to find coverings that will provide effective noise-reduction and be consistent with Breuer’s design philosophy.

While no date for their return visits have been definitely scheduled, the architects plan to return to Grosse Pointe monthly to continue the exchange of information as they begin their design work and to be able to not only maintain the Breuer building, but to expand it in a manner that is faithful to Breuer’s overall design, look, and feel.