‘This building is going to be around for a long time’

Summer library construction update

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 10, 2020

 Clinton-Macomb Public Library Director Larry Neal signs “free people read freely” onto a dome. The plan was for the 30,000-pound dome to be placed on top of the structure Aug. 11.

Clinton-Macomb Public Library Director Larry Neal signs “free people read freely” onto a dome. The plan was for the 30,000-pound dome to be placed on top of the structure Aug. 11.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Around this time next year, the plan is for Macomb Township to have the newest library in the county.

Construction at the site of the future Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, south of 25 Mile Road on Broughton Road in Macomb Township, is progressing despite some slowdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation has been laid, and steel beams are now in place.

CMPL Library Director Larry Neal said the project remains on track for the 28,485-square-foot building to open in late summer 2021. That makes it twice the size of the current North Branch, which opened in 2001. The new library comes at a price tag of $18.5 million.

He said the big push now is to get the site enclosed so it can be worked on throughout the winter.

The most recent development was for a 30,000-pound dome, which measures in at about 40 feet tall, to be placed on top of the structure Aug. 11. It has a steel structure with wooden sheathing.

Once in place, copper shingles will be placed on the dome. Initially, it will have a shiny look, but in two to three years, it will give way to a reddish-brown color.

“The site was very difficult to work with because there is a wetland area that was almost cutting in the center of this parcel and if you disturb more than a third of an acre of wetlands, then it requires federal permitting, so the building got pushed forward and stretched out a bit,” Neal said.

Since the library will be in the vicinity of the Macomb Township Recreation Center and Town Hall, Neal said it was designed to look like a building that can stand on its own.

What makes this project unique, Neal said, is the challenge of creating a traditional building to fit within a traditional design, yet offer modern 21st century amenities.

“I think it’s going to be a flexible building for the long haul and (create) so many beautiful views of the inside and outside,” he said. “It’s a beautiful town square to look at.”

Ann Dilcher, principal at Quinn Evans Architects, said the company was responsible for the design of the building and for working through the approval process with the township and county for construction.

The project architect is Quinn Evans Architects, and the construction management firm is McCarthy & Smith.

“The library is an important third piece of the town square,” she said. “We wanted it to be a one-story building for efficiency and patron use, but at the same time, to be a significant piece in the square by giving it some height and prominence.”

Overall, Neal said the public has been patient with the construction progress.

“A benefit is we own the building where the North Branch is so we don’t have to get out of that building until we’re ready,” he said. “I told the architects that we want a quality job because this building is going to be around for a long time and we’re putting a lot of money into it.”

The front entrance of the library faces west toward Town Hall.

“There will be porticos that come out like porches on both sides so there will be arches that will be formed,” Neal said. “We want it to feel like the community’s front living room.”

Dilcher said Quinn Evans has done a lot of recent library work in Michigan, and it loves doing public work projects that support a community.

For parking, some spots will be available at the front of the building along Broughton Road, but the majority of parking will be behind the library.

The back or east side of the library will feature another entrance with a community commons area.

When folks walk in the front entrance and head to the left, they will find the creative and storytime room, used for children’s crafts.

“A door will take people out to an outdoor courtyard area with the children’s area on the other side,” Neal said. “In talking with the architect, we have great views of the wetland behind, but I also wanted to have views from within the building of itself.”

An outdoor porch area will also be on the back area of the building, toward the parking lot.

A drive-up entrance, for patrons picking up or returning items, will be positioned on the south side of the library.

One of the next phases of construction will be when masons add a layer of brick to the structure’s exterior.