Plans approved, RFP goes out for Baldwin library renovation

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 14, 2016

 The adult services section at the Baldwin Public Library should undergo renovations beginning in August.

The adult services section at the Baldwin Public Library should undergo renovations beginning in August.

Schematic provided by the city of Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM — The Baldwin Public Library is one step closer to having a revamped adult services section.

At its June 6 meeting, the City Commission voted 6-0 to approve the final plan for the renovation, which is the first of a long-term renovation plan for the library building overall. Mayor Rackeline Hoff was absent.

The adult services renovation is projected to cost around $2.2 million, according to Luckenback Ziegelman Gardner Architects, which was awarded the design contract in April 2015. About $900,000 of that will come from the library’s fund balance and unrestricted trust funds.

BPL Director Doug Koschik explained to the commission that the renovation will better improve function and aesthetics of the library while protecting and even highlighting the existing building, which was first built in 1927 and was expanded in 1980.

The plans detail an improved layout, with the stacks area changed to follow the contours of the building and to highlight the wayfinding paths throughout, identified by colored floor designs with wood slats. The stacks are also designed to let light in from the windows behind.

Other features include improved low-voltage LED lighting, a new reference desk with seating features so guests can get in-depth help from staff, glass-enclosed study spaces, a new computer lab and maker space.

The furniture is modern and bright, with lots of movable pieces to promote group collaborations.

Unlike in former renderings, Koschik said the curved windows will not go all the way to the floor but instead will stop short of the ground with a layer of limestone — a move that will save about $36,000.

The commissioners were pleased with the plan, which they had originally planned to approve May 23, but delayed because they felt they were provided insufficient documents detailing the actual changes to the structure.

“We’ve heard (tonight) a lot of what we’ve heard before. I thought tonight we’d get to see the final plan,” said Commissioner Stuart Sherman May 23, explaining that they were only provided renderings in the agenda packet, not blueprints.

“Commissioner Sherman brings up an important point. We’ve seen the general plans and we’ve seen the conceptual elevations, but we haven’t seen the actual elevations,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark Nickita at the May 23 meeting. “Earlier discussions have been more conceptual. We’re approving what’s being proposed. Approving a rendering is not approving a document. The City Commission is particularly concerned with the building because it’s the city’s building, and now we’re changing it.”

On June 6, Koschik ensured that the commissioners were provided architectural, mechanical, structural and electrical drawings with elevations. That seemed to do the trick, since the group approved the plan and, in turn, authorized the issuance of a request for proposals for the project.

The only thing that wasn’t finalized by that meeting was the lighting, which City Manager Joe Valentine assured the commission was a minor change.

“The changes (that could come) would only be to the lighting component, which is strictly more of a ballast issue. In regard to that, the only thing you would not be approving is the type of lighting outlined in the plan. From a structural perspective, it would be the same,” Valentine explained.

Construction is expected to begin in August, according to the project page on the Baldwin Public Library’s website.

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