Architectural firm reveals renovation plans for library

May 22, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

Harford County Library officials got a taste of what a newly remodeled $7.5 million library might look like Thursday when architects studying the feasibility of renovating the 34-year-old Bel Air library gave a formal presentation of the results of their study.

Getz Taylor Architects Inc. is the Havre de Grace firm contracted the county to study the feasibility of expanding and remodeling the Bel Air library on its current site at Hickory and Pennsylvania avenues. The firm described two options at the Board of Library Trustees' May meeting.

The good news, architect Gary Getz told the trustees, is that architects were able to design a 54,000-square-foot building on the current site.

The existing building, at 22,000 square feet, is inadequate for the library's collection of 260,000 items and the needs of its 60,000 annual patrons, officials say.

The bad news, Mr. Getz said, is that the design calls for two floors. Library officials prefer a one-story building, he noted, because it's easier for staff and patrons.

Both options for a two-story building stretch into what is now a parking lot behind the library as well as the half-acre now used as a tot lot behind the library.

The town of Bel Air has agreed to donate that land, which is part of Shamrock Park, to the library.

Both options also reconfigure the building to put the entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue instead of Hickory, where it is now.

In either option, a parking lot would be constructed on what is now parkland.

Additional parking is planned along Pennsylvania Avenue and in the lot across Pennsylvania now used by library patrons.

"Parking is critical to any library," said William Koster, an associate architect under contract to Getz Taylor who specializes in library design. "Most people stay only six to eight minutes at a time, so it's important to have parking close at hand."

Both plans allow for 80 to 90 cars nearby, he said.

In one depiction, the library would have a two-story lobby, with children's services on the first floor and adult services on the second.

The first floor would also house the circulation desk, meeting rooms, the audiovisual area, a large workroom and staff areas.

"This design would contain the hustle and bustle on the lower level, and the second floor would become the quiet area," said Mr. Koster, whose Cleveland-based firm has designed more than 30 libraries across the country.

A glass-enclosed staircase would lead to the second floor, where a study zone in the nonfiction area would provide a quiet atmosphere for students.

The price: $7.54 million.

The other option, whose cost was estimated at $7.89 million, combines children and adult services on one large second floor that would be cantilevered over a 36-space parking area.

The smaller, first floor would house meeting and work rooms, staff areas, the lobby and circulation area.

The advantages of having all services on one floor, Mr. Koster said, is that the library can operate with a minimum of staff.

In addition, he said, there is easy access by both children and adults to the entire collection of materials.

Both schemes call for "gutting the existing building and retrofitting it with new mechanical and electrical systems," said Mr. Getz. "Except for structural elements, you will have a brand new building."

He said the renovations could go on while the library is occupied and fully operational.

Joseph Patti, Harford County director of procurement, said the next step will be to hire an architect to take the feasibility report and make it more specific.

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has allocated $250,000 in the 1995 capital budget for architectural planning and design of the library.

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