County Wants to Finalize Library Design

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A design for Crozet library should go to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors for approval by June, county director of facilities development Bill Letteri told the library’s design committee at its meeting March 23.

Challenged by committee member Bill Schrader, who heads the effort to raise $1.3 million to furnish the interior and buy books, to explain the haste if construction of the building is being postponed until 2013, Letteri answered that “the county team is pursuing, very hard, funding for grants to pay for  the library.” Building costs are substantially lower–quotes are now coming in at $225 per square foot, Letteri said, more than $100 less than the county’s original budget estimate—and the county wants to be ready to take advantage of that favorable bidding climate if possible.

Schrader said he would prefer to delay final design until nearer the actual construction date in order to allow for flexibility, especially in case of technology changes.

Letteri said that should technology advances dictate design changes, they would be made in the approved design. When the committee agreed that it wanted blueprints as soon as possible in case money becomes available, Letteri cautioned that that prospect is unlikely.

Letteri reported that public reaction to the design, collected at the open house held in February at Crozet United Methodist Church, was that the building is too big, that the façade is either too modern or not fitting with Crozet, that deeper excavation of the lower level for future expansion is preferable, that there should be entrances from both new main street and Crozet Avenue, that the library’s interior layout is good, and that it should be built as soon as possible.

Architect Todd Willoughby from Grimm and Parker Architects, designers of the library, introduced changes to the teen area and showed how an angled parking layout would create a larger landscaped area. That raised a concern about whether school buses could steer through the lot. Willoughby noted that the lot accommodates firetrucks and delivery trucks.

Another issue with the parking lot was a possible connection to Tabor Presbyterian Church to the south. Tabor is designing an addition to the church. Willoughby said that, fortuitously, the grades of the lots would be very close and that a connection would save the cost of a retaining wall along the lot boundary and also allow for overflow parking for both sides.

Barbara Westbrook said that Tabor is adamantly against such a connection.

In other design changes, Willoughby pointed out the hip roofs over the tower elements (the public had reacted negatively to the flat roof style) and a canopy that will cover the sidewalk from new main street to the library’s main entrance. The central clerestory windows that willl admit light into the center of the building have been reduced from six to four feet high, he added.

Supervisor Sally Thomas suggested a hip roof for the canopy and Supervisor Ann Mallek said that the main roof also should not be flat. A pitched roof might complicate qualification for LEED certification [as a sustainable building], Willoughby cautioned. In the end, the flat roof had enough defenders among the committee that Mallek relented.

“I wouldn’t say this building is emblematic of Crozet,” Willoughby summed up the style issues. “It’s trying to walk a tightrope between modern and traditional.”