Architect Mohammed Lawal drew applause from residents in the Camden area of the city this week after presenting the proposed schematic design for the new Webber Park library that his team at the LSE firm is designing.
The exterior design for a building on Webber Parkway features a mix of Cold Spring granite, grey or green zinc shingles and wood accents. The interior is designed for flexible space. The project has a $12 million budget and is scheduled for a spring 2016 opening.
“I think he’s done an outstanding job,” area resident Sue Quist. “He’s heard everything we’ve said and nuanced it into the design.”
The planned building of about 8,000 square feet has an east-west axis paralleling the parkway, lying between Humboldt Av. N. and the Hamilton Manor senior public housing building. That axis is designed to maximize daylight for the building, but wide overhangs are planned to keep that light indirect.
The proposal also creates outdoor spaces, including an outdoor reading area east of the building where a shallow storm water retention pond is planned. There will be one plaza at the building’s northwest entrance off parkway bike-walk paths, and another at the south entrance from a 24-car parking lot. A porch with seating will from the Humboldt side.
“We want this building to settle nicely into the neighborhood,” Lawal told about 30 residents who attended LSE’s presentation for the Hennepin County project.
LSE is proposing to use accents of cedar or fir, especially around windows, to warm the building’s exterior,, and also plans substantial use of wood inside. It has also broken up the building’s exterior faces into more blocky modules since an earlier design, something that pleased county Commissioner Linda Higgins.
The proposed schematic design goes to the County Board later this spring for approval. Construction would begin about a year from now. The proposed library includes three meeting or conference rooms.
The proposal is the first new library built by Lawal within Minneapolis, but he’s previously designed renovations at four libraries within the city. He’s also designed new libraries elsewhere in the metro area at Elk River and at three locations in Chisago County.
One question that county library officials aren’t ready to answer is how many hours the new library will operate. That’s an important topic for area residents because the current temporary library in a shopping area is open only 24 hours week spread over three days. That opening followed two shutdowns of the old library in Webber Park. The first occurred after city libraries ran short of funds. After city libraries merged into the county’s library system, the building was closed again when ceiling tiles fell.
Another new county library in Excelsior that’s slightly smaller than the proposed Webber Park library is open 48 hours weekly that are spread over six days.