New Friday Library concept revealed
Residents interested in contributing ideas and feedback to the new library project in New Richmond met for a second time with Library Director Kim Hennings and MSR Design team members Traci Lesneski, Susan Olmsted and Ian Ford Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Civic Center.
MSR principal Lesneski reminded the audience that the new library project is just completing the concept phase of the process. The next step is to establish a vision and guiding principles for the project to be followed by time dedicated to fundraising. Should fundraising prove successful, that would be followed by development of a specific, detailed design and then construction.
To fulfill the vision requirement, the project has adopted the library's existing mission and vision statements. The mission reads: "To be a dynamic and friendly hub for the community, a gathering place for people in the New Richmond area to learn, explore and connect."
The vision statement reads: "To provide a flexible, interactive community destination for preservation, education and innovation for the present and future."
Lesneski then laid out the nine guiding principles determined through a "consensual conversation" between stakeholders from the first engagement session in August, city staff, library leadership, library board members, city council members and the director of Indianhead Federated Library System.
Those principals are: Transparent & Open, Library & Park, Adaptable & Flexible, Memory & Innovation, Inclusive & Interactive, Destination & Engine, Neighbor & Connector, Model & Experiment and Smart & Sustainable.
Prior to the moment everyone had been waiting for, the reveal of the concept renderings, Lesneski reviewed the primary findings from the first meeting in August during which participants explored three different elements of the new library: crafting great gathering spaces (interior), landscape ideas and exterior amenities to enhance the space and the experience (exterior), and what will make the library a destination, draw people to the library.
Lesneski explained that MSR had brought several design concepts to the library committee for their review prior to agreeing on the concept to be presented that evening.
MSR Architect Olmsted walked audience members through a rendering of an overhead site plan, the first glimpse of MSR's interpretation of the new library. She explained the driving concept behind the initial design was "pavilion in the park."
"The overall concept is actually inspired by the existing Friday Memorial Library and the activities, culture and frankly, the love that everybody has for the library as a grounding institution in the city. It is a pavilion in the park. That is the concept for the new library, to carry that tradition forward and elevate and amplify it," explained Olmsted.
Olmsted walked audience members through a functional explanation for why elements like parking, plantings and gathering spaces were located where they were.
Moments later, audience members got their first glimpse of a ground level view of the new library concept when MSR architect Ford flashed the first renderings up on the wall at the Civic Center.
Revealed was a single level, 28,000 square foot facility, capable of being constructed in either a single phase or two phases, 18,000 square feet followed by 10,000 square feet (current library 8,600 square feet) with the capacity to park nearly 100 vehicles on the property.
"As you look at this view, you see the library entrance, the transparency that we talked about previously; you see the opportunity to see various types of events in the plaza from a movie to gathering around a fire or a sculpture," said Ford.
"We are trying to convey in this image, what it would be like to arrive at the library and be on your way inside. You can actually see through all this beautiful glass into what's going on inside the library. We've oriented the entry to be smack dab down the middle of the building so that you can get the whole purview of the building when you walk in that front door. You're being welcomed into the building, the proverbial open arms, bringing you right into the heart of the building," added Lesneski.
Lesneski noted the building is oriented to emphasize longer walls on the north and south sides to capitalize on the advantages of light from those directions including heat while limiting exposure from the east and west to avoid disadvantages like glare.
Lesneski emphasized her team has paid a lot of attention to all the ways the new library can employ resources like sunlight and storm water in making the building more sustainable in the long run.
"We want to give enough information (with these renderings) that you feel like you can see yourself in here, imagine that you are sitting by one of these open windows looking out or think about being at a movie in the evening. So it is not yet a design, but it is a concept that is meant to help inspire and help you connect with what we are trying to achieve here," added Lesneski.
"There is a long process of input and design and input and design work that still needs to happen," explained Ford.
Audience members divided into small groups to react to the design concepts focusing on ideas inspired by the renderings and opportunities that might have been missed. Following a period for discussion and brainstorming, the groups presented several ideas. Following the last group's presentation, the large sheets of paper containing each group's ideas were collected for further review by MSR.
Hennings concluded by reiterating that the renderings, although pretty and interesting, are not the new library. They were meant to inspire everyone's imaginations. The real work to design the actual building is just getting started, but the next step, an essential step, is fundraising.
"We have contracted with a firm out of St. Paul called Library Strategies. They are going to help us do a fundraising feasibility study. They will be interviewing different people in the community to get a feeling for what New Richmond can support financially if we launch a capital campaign. We will review the results of their study and hopefully next year we'll be able to launch the capital campaign and simultaneously move into that design phase where there will be more community input as we start to hammer out what the actual library will look like. We're probably looking at a year's worth of design work with lots more opportunities for community input."