Library Design Ready For Public Comment

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Design work on the new Crozet library has advanced to the point that it will be presented to the Albemarle County Planning Commission this month and subsequently to the Board of
Supervisors. The public is invited to react to the plans at an open house slated for Feb. 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Crozet United Methodist Church’s fellowship hall.
The Crozet Library Steering
Committee, composed of
architects from the firm of
Grimm and Parker, designers
of the building, local
citizens, Jefferson-Madison
Regional Library officials
and county staffers, has
been developing the design
since August. Construction
of the building is scheduled
to begin in July 2011, but
may be postponed in
upcoming county budget
decisions.
Conflicts over how the
lower level on the building
on Crozet Avenue would
connect to the main library
on the floor above were
resolved at the committee’s
Jan. 26 session. An elevator
shaft will be built, but
installation of the elevator
will be postponed until thetime in the future when the library expands to
occupy both levels. Officials said that if it made
sense for reasons of economy, and money is available,
the elevator will be installed at construction.
The library staff does not want to have to monitor
a second entrance to the building. Creating
one would require hiring another staffer.
The elevator will open onto a lobby on the
lower level designed to accommodate a flight of
stairs as well. The stairs will be built whenever the
library expands. Plans now call for a larger area to
be excavated and the two lower-floor rooms to be
enlarged into spaces about 1,000 and 1,800
square feet each. Their uses are still undetermined.
They might be leased as commercial spaces (not
as restaurants) or used as public meeting rooms.
The parking lot now has 61 spaces. Committee
members suggested that the traffic flow in it be
one-way only to free up more spaces and improve
pedestrian safety at the library entrance. Designers
will also consider how to incorporate a sidewalk
in the landscaped island in the parking lot that is
on the same axis as the main entry. The possibility
of connecting the lot with Tabor Presbyterian
Church was raised, but no one has approached
the church about it.
In reaction to Architectural Review Board
comments, the main door, which faces the parking
lot, will now have a canopy over it and a more
prominent approach from the new Main Street,
including a ramp.
The library will contain 18,300 square feet and
include a fireplace in the periodicals section. Fivefeet-
tall clerestory windows will run down the
central axis of the building and fill the library
with diffused natural light. Committee members
repeated their preference for a large corner window
in the library that looks out on the Crozet
Avenue/Main Street intersection and opens up
the panorama of the Blue Ridge. Suggested in
earlier versions, it was not shown in the elevations
presented at the meeting, but architects said theywould revisit the idea.
The facade is mainly brick with a
stone lower course. Committee
members supported the idea of decorative
brickwork. They noted it
will “set the tone” for new architecture
in downtown Crozet and they
want it to be a good example to follow.
Citizens also pressed for it to be
built promptly. Bill Schrader, who
heads the fundraising drive that will
provide furniture and books for the
library, noted that the need to build
a new library was originally
acknowledged in 1999.
Mac Lafferty and Kathleen Jump
stressed the importance of the
library for downtown development
and pressed for speedy construction.
J-MRL director John Halliday
noted that a new library will typically
experience a 40 percent jump
in circulation.
“We want to build a library, the
best we can,” said Crozet librarian
Wendy Saz, “not build a building
and stick a library in it. We’ve been
diligent. We’ve given everything a
fair attempt, and we’ve come to