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home : news Wednesday, August 23, 2017

5/3/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Public rates features for new library
At workshop this month, architects will put ideas into drawings for work

By Tom Pantera

Library patrons in DeWitt have had a chance to tell designers what features they consider most important in a bigger building.

The second meeting of an informal citizens advisory group drew about two dozen people Thursday to the DeWitt Community Center to talk about the project with Kevin Eipperle of FEH Design in Dubuque, the firm hired to do conceptual work on a new library.

"Our intent here is to develop as many ideas as we can," Eipperle told the crowd.

Eipperle reviewed material, first presented in an earlier public meeting, about the condition of the current library and plans for a new one. Those include a new library's space needs; a consultant has recommended a 21,542-square-foot facility, which would be twice the size of the current structure.

But the heart of Thursday's meeting was a ranking of design criteria for the new building.

At the meeting earlier last month, Eipperle and the Library Board took suggestions on features and concepts people wanted designers to include in the library. The board and designers then translated those suggestions into design criteria, general qualities that architects would consider when designing the facility.

Design criteria ranked

Much of Thursday's meeting was give-and-take between Eipperle and members of the public to rank the importance of those design criteria. That was done by reading off each of 16 criteria and then having a show of hands to rank each on a 10-point scale, with Eipperle translating the show of hands into a number.

Criteria rankings, from highest to lowest, were:

Having a flexible and appropriate space for each group of users; having a functional layout; being technology-friendly; using sustainable building materials; and providing a safe and accessible entrance (each of which ranked a 10);


Minimizing operating costs;

Making the library welcoming and comfortable;

Keeping the building to one story, an option favored by Library Director Jillian Aschliman;

Integration with other city buildings, like City Hall and the Community Center;

Maximizing partnership opportunities with the school district, local artists and other parties; facilitating the library's use by local businesses and entrepreneurs; and connecting it with the nearby park;

Providing adequate off-street parking, which Eipperle said would mean about 60 parking spaces;

Taking a cost-effective approach, which would mean being able to build a structure that would be halfway between a minimal facility and one with higher-end features;

Allowing for future expansion.

The next big public meeting will be a two-day design-planning workshop May 17 and 18.

Drawing up plans

Eipperle told Thursday's audience that during the coming workshop, the project team will gather at the community center and "we are essentially going to set up our office and draw everything you want us to draw."

Designers will start at 9 a.m. on those two days. Members of the public can come in with suggestions on how they would like the library to look, and architects will actually draw the plans.

All of those plans will then be presented at public meetings at 6 p.m. each day, with those attending voting on the various designs.

"We will generate a lot of information in those two days," Eipperle said.

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