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home : news Wednesday, August 23, 2017

5/20/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Library expansion options narrowed at public charrette

By Tom Pantera

Architects have narrowed to four the design concepts for a new DeWitt library.

Those options came out of the first day of a two-day charrette, or design workshop, held to garner public comment on the proposed library expansion.

Kevin Eipperle of FEH Design of Dubuque said the chosen options are:

Expanding the current building to the south, closing half of 10th Street and building an addition onto the Community Center to house some of the library, connecting the two buildings with a second-story walkway.

Additional space to the west and south of the current building;

Expanded space south of the building and constructing a full basement;

Added space to the south, by taking over the Thiel building, which now houses the TEC Center.

Wednesday's first day of the charrette drew about three dozen people, with the evening meeting to discuss design ideas accounting for a third of that. Eipperle reviewed the 11 design options, some with variations, that came from the first day after those attending were asked to vote on their favorites.

On Thursday, the workshop's second day, architects were expected to talk about how the building's interior would be arranged and come up with loose budget numbers for each option.

Eipperle said the designs selected Wednesday came from 26 options people suggested during the day. "We got continuous feedback," he said.

Suggestions ran the gamut, from simply redoing the existing space to putting a new building in an entirely different location.

Except for one option, simply rehabilitating the current building, architects have looked to double the size of the library to 21,500 square feet.

Options discussed Wednesday included building additions up to the existing property line; expanding into the Community Center; connecting the library with city hall, which is behind the property; adding a second story, either on top of or below the current building; expanding into the TEC Center building, which now houses a makerspace; and building an entirely new library at 709 Sixth Ave., the former site of Hardee's and Mi Tierra Mexican Grill.

Some options bordered on the fanciful, such as adding space in the community center and linking it to the main library through a pedestrian bridge.

Eipperle said adding a second story on to current building appeared to be the least popular option, primarily because of concerns over disrupting library operations during construction and the scope of such a project.

He said public response to the charrette was similar to that of others his firm had conducted elsewhere.

Library Director Jillian Aschliman said she was happy with the first day's turnout, noting that many of those who came spent a considerable time talking with designers.

She declined to say whether any of the ideas presented were personal favorites.

"I'm just excited that we're exploring a new building option," she said. "I'm still kind of letting it marinate."

City Administrator Steve Lindner, who was among those at Wednesday night's meeting, said options that involved closing part or all of the street did present some difficulties, since it carries a lot of traffic and has utility lines under it. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen if there was enough community support, he said.

"There's nothing magic about the street."

Results of the charrette, including budget numbers, will be presented at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Community Center.

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