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home : news Tuesday, June 27, 2017

5/10/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Public has chance to influence library plan
Two-day workshop has opportunities to suggest what, where to expand

By Tom Pantera
Editor

Anybody who skips a two-day design workshop for a new DeWitt library is missing a real opportunity, Architect Kevin Eipperle said.

He described the workshop, known in architectural circles as a charrette, as "kind of the big opportunity for the public, the stakeholders, the users of the library, to more than influence the design - basically drive the library solution. This is a chance for the voice of everybody to be heard and weigh in on the options."

The charrette will be from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 17 and 18 at the DeWitt Community Center.

Eipperle, of FEH Design, the firm hired to do early conceptual work, said five people - three architects, an interior designer, and a marketing and campaign planning person - will set up a design office in the Community Center. They'll be joined for part of that time by Anders Dahlgren, a library planning consultant hired separately by the Library Board.

Day 1

The first morning of the event will be devoted to looking at the six- to nine-block area around the current library to evaluate other potential sites. Most of the discussion so far has assumed the new library will be a new building on the current library site or an addition to the current structure. Architects will examine traffic patterns around downtown, access to buildings, and utility hookups.

At noon, architects will give a presentation on the site options and ask people attending to weigh in on them.

The afternoon will feature more detailed discussion on sites, building configurations, and parking.

That evening, architects will meet with the citizens' advisory group and the public to get their input on those issues.

Day 2

The second morning "we really start to look at how we lay out specific rooms, what the outside may look like," Eipperle explained.

Another meeting will begin at noon to discuss options on those and get more feedback.

In the afternoon, work will focus on the layout of furniture and collections and on rough budget numbers.

In a final meeting, held the second night, architects will present the most popular options for the project.

Throughout the two days, virtually all ideas will be drawn by the architects.

"We're essentially setting up our office in the Community Center building," Eipperle said "We'll be drawing every one of our ideas and other people's ideas that will be presented."

After the charrette, architects will take some time to collate all of the information, which will then be presented to the Library Board.

The charrette will eventually be followed by a public survey to provide more public comment on the project.

Public input needed

Eipperle said the success of the charrette would depend on attendance and how much designers would be able to talk to library patrons and local residents.

"We're not going to create the final solutions while we're there," he said. "We're going to get lots of ideas. We're going to be able to harvest all those options and bring them together to the best solution we can design. Many times our designs come up very, very similar to what comes out of this kind of charrette.

"We've seen that when we do this, the solutions are better. Too many cooks don't spoil the pot in this case."

Library Director Jillian Aschliman said she also hoped as many people as possible would show up for the charrette.

"It's incredibly important," she said. "We want to hear from the public to see what their thoughts are on any of the designs, share any ideas that we haven't considered."

Dahlgren, the library consultant, has recommended a 21,542-square-foot facility, which would be double the size of the current structure.


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