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Design concerns stall library, parking projects

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A majority of city council members still would like more architectural tweaking to make the new Glenwood Springs branch library building fit better with the historic downtown character.

Council voted 4-3 at its Thursday meeting to continue its review of the new, 28,000-square-foot shared library and Colorado Mountain College building to be located at the southwest corner of Eighth and Cooper.

A companion review for a two-level city parking structure that is to be built at the corner of Ninth and Cooper as part of the same downtown redevelopment project was also continued for two weeks.



The same contingent of council members expressed concerns about design elements in both the library building and the parking structure. The projects are being designed for the city, the Garfield County Public Library District, CMC and the Downtown Development Authority by the same group of architects.

“When you first came before us, we were unanimous is saying that we wanted to see a historic design for this building,” Councilman Todd Leahy said of the library project. “Unfortunately, I don’t see it here.



“The comments I’m hearing from people in my [downtown] ward is that this looks like a big warehouse,” Leahy said. “I don’t want to design your building, but I think you need to take a little bit of time again to get this into a historical context that’s acceptable to the community.”

Council is giving final considerations to plans for the $12 million shared library and CMC facility. The city was integral in convincing library officials to keep the library downtown, even purchasing the corner lot for $1.6 million where the new building is to be located.

Plans call for a 28,000-square-foot building, with the 14,000-square-foot main floor serving as the library. CMC and the library propose to eventually share the upstairs portion of the building, which will remain unfinished for now.

A 65-space underground parking garage beneath the library building would serve CMC’s central services employees during the day, but be open to the public after business hours. A 6,000 square-foot public plaza is also to be developed just south of the library.

Dennis Humphries of Humphries Poli Architects said several changes were made after a conceptual review with city council last fall, when the historic design concerns were first raised.

“The design is an attempt to address the historic context of Glenwood Springs,” he said. “But we also want to create a building that talks about 2012 and the future of libraries.”

Leahy and Councilman Mike Gamba were critical of several design elements, including a main floor that would be set back from the sidewalks along Eighth and Cooper, with an overhanging cantilevered upper section along much of the building.

Gamba also said he would like to see a cornice detail in the brickwork along the top of the building, to mimic some of the older downtown buildings.

“Aesthetics are subjective, true, but we have a downtown design standard that I don’t believe has been met here,” Gamba said. “I want a building that will be a joy to look at 110, 120 years from now.

“This is not a joy, it’s anywhere USA, and it doesn’t belong in downtown Glenwood Springs,” he said.

Councilmen Dave Sturges and Leo McKinney sided with Leahy and Gamba in sending the architects back to the drawing table.

Mayor Matt Steckler and councilmen Stephen Bershenyi and Ted Edmonds said it’s not the city’s place to redesign the library project.

“I was born and raised here, and I’ve lived with the relics of past,” Bershenyi said. “I understand we should have a historic presence, but we also have to move to the future.

“This building has to be functional, and has to work well for the intended purpose,” he said. “I’m on board with this design, and I think it will come to be a very loved building.”

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the library project, though some did question the building design.

Council also voted 6-1 to continue the parking structure review. The majority of council members felt they had more leverage in the design of that project, since it would be owned by the city.

But Mayor Steckler said council has had plenty of opportunity to provide design input before Thursday night’s meeting.

“This is another example of designing on the fly,” Steckler said. “We’ve had a lot of time to get this right.

“I think we’re doing the community a disservice” in delaying the projects, Steckler said.

Construction on both the library and parking garage projects is supposed to begin in April.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, council:

• Continued its review of the 60-unit Glenwood Green Apartments project at Glenwood Meadows, at the applicant’s request, until March 1.

• Approved plans by FirstBank Holding Co. for a new drive-through bank building at 2014 Grand Ave., the former location of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent offices.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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