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|Plans for Pico Branch Library Unveiled|
By Jason Islas
April 7, 2011 -- City planners held a community workshop Tuesday to unveil designs for the proposed Pico Branch Library at Virginia Avenue Park.
“The workshops have been really informative,” said Jennifer Rios, a designer with Koning Eizenberg Architecture, the local firm in charge of drawing up the plans for new library, adding that the community meetings have “enriched the design process.”
The library and adjoining community room, approximately 8,400 square feet altogether, will be on the north edge of the Farmers Market Plaza in Virginia Park.
Though the plan will require moving three stalls currently in use, “we're planning to have no losses whatsoever,” said City Architect Miriam Mulder, who added that city staff is talking to the vendors about the best place to relocate their stalls.
A walkway will be added from Pico Boulevard through the Farmers Market Plaza to the main entrance, which, according to the current design, will be on the south side of the building.
Some members of the community felt that the design formed by the foot path to the main entrance was too angular and ought to be “more meandering.”
Another challenge of designing the new library was striking a balance between giving the new building an open feel and a good view of the park while still making it a place to avoid too much glare.
Architect Julie Eizenberg said that a system of canopies would be added to address that problem.
Andrew Spurlock with Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects spoke about the importance of integrating the new building into the park itself.
“It should tie the community together,” Purlock said, adding that the library should feel like part of the park.
Some of the design ideas he proposed included a “living wall” formed by plants growing in a vertical arrangement.
Across the fire lane from the main library building, there will be a community center dedicated for library programming, including story times for children.
For the space between the community center and buildings already in place, Spurlock suggested an amphitheater.
Solar panels are also part of the design because one of the goals of the new library will be sustainability.
Eizenberg stated that the building is designed to be eligible for a Silver rating by the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification program designed by the U.S. Green Building Program.
Though overall the audience received the updated plans very positively, one person worried that this wouldn't be the “learning center” that the Pico Neighborhood had hoped for.
He added that it seemed like it seemed more like a “warehouse for books” than a dynamic center for learning.
Eizenberg responded by pointing out that the library will have a “whole new model of service.”
Librarian Greg Mullen called the new model “side by side service,” juxtaposing it to the old “over the counter model.”
Taking advantage of the fact that the new library will come with Santa Monica's first ever automated book return, it will be staffed with circulating librarians who aren't stationed at desks, but trained to help patrons take full advantage of the resources available to them.
Though the plans are not yet solidified, the current projection for the library's completion is at the end of 2013, according to Mulder.
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