Council critical of new library design concept
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City councilors want architects for a new downtown Glenwood Springs library to go back to the drawing board, and back about 100 years, to come up with a design that’s in keeping with historic downtown Glenwood Springs.
“I’m looking for something that’s more in character with the existing buildings in downtown Glenwood,” Councilman Mike Gamba said during a conceptual review of what’s being referred to as the “Eighth and Cooper Project” at the Thursday Glenwood Springs City Council meeting.
To put it more bluntly, he and the other council members said the exterior building design currently being contemplated, with its angled design features, large horizontal windows and modern look, would not meet the city’s downtown design standards.
“If this design came before us for final approval, I would have to reject it,” Gamba said after a presentation by project architects Dennis Humphries and Willis Pember.
Added Councilman Todd Leahy, “This design does nothing for the historical character of downtown Glenwood Springs.
“I would ask that you follow the historic design guidelines as much as possible, and not deviate,” Leahy said.
Mayor Matt Steckler agreed.
“I like the building design, but I don’t see how it belongs downtown,” he said. “Maybe out at the Meadows, but not downtown.”
Council got its first official look Thursday at conceptual designs for the new two-story, 28,000-square-foot library building that is being planned for the city-owned lot at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Cooper Avenue.
The building would house the Garfield County Public Library District’s new 14,000 square-foot Glenwood Springs Branch Library on the first floor, replacing the current library at Ninth Street and Blake Avenue.
At least part of the second floor of the new building would include additional classrooms, meeting space and offices for Colorado Mountain College.
CMC is currently renovating the upper levels of the adjacent 802 Grand Ave. building for its new central services building. A connecting walkway over the alley to connect the two buildings is also envisioned.
The proposed development would also include a 6,000 square-foot public plaza to the south of the library building, and a 63-space underground private daytime parking garage for CMC. The parking garage may be made available to the public after business hours and on weekends and holidays.
“We believe this is one of the most exciting projects that will be happening in downtown Glenwood Springs over the next few years,” Humphries said in his presentation.
“We want the design to be representative of Glenwood Springs, but also to be able to accommodate a 21st Century library,” he said.
As envisioned, the front of the building would be angled at the street corner, including a outdoor reading deck overlooking the intersection of Eighth and Cooper, with views toward the mouth of Glenwood Canyon.
“It’s a different way of addressing the street and defines [the library] from other downtown buildings,” Humphries explained of the concept.
Inside the building would be a large community room and smaller meeting areas, in addition to staff areas and the main library.
The second floor would be built as an empty shell at first, but could eventually accommodate additional library expansion plus whatever space CMC decides to take.
“We are also exploring the opportunity for an art gallery space in this building,” Humphries said.
The gallery area would take advantage of a large window overlooking the plaza, and is intended to replace the one that would be lost when CMC vacates its existing building at Ninth and Grand, he said.
Meanwhile, the parking garage would run beneath the library building and the plaza area, with an entrance and exit from Eighth Street.
The city has been a key player in advancing the joint development project, including purchase of the site last spring. The property is intended to be conveyed to the library district, and CMC could also take part ownership involving its space in the building.
City Council members, while expressing support for the project in general, said the design concerns go back to a long and involved public process several years ago to come up with the historic design standards.
“You’re not just hearing from seven individuals up here,” Councilman Dave Sturges said. “These design guidelines were established after extensive public input, and we are just trying to follow that.”
Added Councilman Ted Edmonds, “Nothing we’ve said here should be interpreted that we’re not absolutely enthused with this project.
“It’s just that, as stewards of town … we suggest you look at these design guidelines and see how this project can adhere to those guidelines,” Edmonds said.
Humphries said the council comments would be taken to heart, but probably won’t be immediately reflected in a public presentation of the schematic designs for the new library Monday evening.
“We will be focusing more on the interior of the building with that presentation, and the quality of the new spaces and rooms that are not currently in the Glenwood Springs library,” he said.
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