Mount Airy's Striking New Building CARROLL COUNTY

January 15, 1993

Mount Airy's striking new library and senior center, which opened last week, is already generating a great many favorable comments from its patrons. While the structure looks much different from other buildings in southwest Carroll, the design works well according to the librarians and the staff of the senior center -- who use the building each day.

From a distance, the yellow masonry block building resembles a collection of barns, which was the intention of the Baltimore architectural firm of Cho, Wilks & Benn. The metal roofs -- barrel-vaulted and ridge-roofed -- are intended to reflect the shapes of the rooms they are covering. The building is sited to take advantage of the wonderful vistas of nearby fields, woods and hills. One senior pointed out that the center's terrace has a great view of the Pine Grove Cemetery, which he joked "is our next destination."

The barn theme is successfully carried through the interior of the library, which is downstairs from the senior center. The spacious and airy children's room and the separate community meeting ** room have exposed wood trusses that evoke the interior of a large milking barn. Like an old barn, the library has a number of nooks and crannies that are filled with books and other reading material. The children's lounge area will be a favorite spot for youngsters and adults to sit and read.

The most remarkable achievement is creating a sense of intimacy and scale, even though the library and the senior center occupy large spaces.

Library patrons and seniors are still adjusting to the tremendous increase in space. When the library operated out of its building on Main Street, the collections were located on whatever shelves happened to be available at the time.

In the new building, the shelves are organized in a very straightforward fashion and the reading materials are easy to find. Seniors, used to doing all their activities in one room at the Calvary Methodist Church, now find they can spread out.

There are problems. Some patrons want more lighting in the library. And some folks find confusing the signs marking entrances to the two separate facilities. These defects can be corrected. The architects and public officials who worked on the building should be quite proud of this welcome addition to the civic architecture of Carroll County.

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