Thursday, September 2, 2021

Library First Impressions: Walking and Biking to It

It has been a little surprising to see people complaining about the new, brighter interior of the Library. Do they remember how dark and gloomy it was? Probably as more art is installed there will be more splashes of color, but the basic white, wood, and gridded ceiling just seem clean rather than sterile. Particularly when there are people in it, the white will be a neutral canvas for the life of books and of human activity.

The nooks look pretty warm and inviting, don't they?

The nooks used to be blocked, and now they are open!

It was of course a great disappointment not to be able go to the Library yesterday. Postponing the opening is the right decision, but a sad one.

Once we all can actually go inside with the regular buzz of activity, there will be more to say, and we may have to revise some of our first impressions made from photos.

But we can talk about the exterior a little! The City's release the day before the postponement was announced, "Parking Update at Renovated Main Library," was completely autoist, and just assumed everybody would visit by car. But people will walk, bike, and bus to it also. And while these were not primary interests for the seismic and renovation work, the team made some changes also for non-auto access and circulation.

You used to have to share the driveway (2012)

They fixed the sidewalk connection on Liberty Street. You may recall that people walking to the Library had to share the driveway.

Connection to sidewalk!

Another one!

That is very happy to note!

A little more ambiguous is the bike parking. Although they improved it a little, I do not think they added enough.

Three racks (six spaces) at the entry

Four racks (eight spaces) in the garage

There are 14 spaces at the main entry, six in the same spot where there were a few more, and eight new ones just tucked under cover in the parking garage. The ones in the garage will be especially nice in rainy weather. But they might be too far from the wall, too near the traffic aisle, with bikes at risk for being clipped, especially if there is not a car and rear bumper delineating the aisle's edge. That'll be something to watch.

On the north, at the lower, plaza level entry there are four more racks for eight more spaces.

Hopefully there is a plan to add parking as demand increases.

Just as a point of trivia, they did not remove the vintage wheelbenders on the original cubes, though they cleared out the old funny grid of trees on the Liberty side.

No more grid of trees,
but retained cube with wheelbenders

Another cube and set of wheelbenders

It was interesting to see up close the shear walls and trellising, which really interrupt the original facade.

Shear wall and trellising
More cubes also

It is a good thing, perhaps, the building was not designated as historical. We should think about that with City Hall for any proposed National Register listing: Because the seismic work further breaks the "integrity" of the original design here, with any historic designation, seismic work on City Hall might be more difficult and more costly. Attaching too strongly to the modernist forms and brutalist style may also impair our ability to think clearly about function. City Hall should be a functional, welcoming building, not just a monument to a mid-century and now historic style.

Docomomo's celebration of our brutalist Civic Center
(the staircase is gone in the remodel)

It was disappointing not to be able to go in, but it was nice to see the exterior finally and to peek in a couple of windows.

More photos:


Mike said...

I’d like to see better sidewalk connectivity on both sides of the library, from opposite Oak to Leslie on the west side and opposite Oak north on the east side. The east side may be tougher with the slope and the new book drop.

Remove the turn lane on Commercial at Leslie and make it on street parking. Cover the top of the parking structure with solar panels. There should also be a lot more bike parking in the garage.

L. Wood said...

I'm excited to see that outer wall grow into its full glory. I also just want to say I greatly enjoy this blog and all the details you pay attention to.