Library expansion has obstacles

Photo: The Takoma Park Public LIbrary shortly after it was built in 1955. Photo from Lukmire Partnership presentation.

BY BILL BROWN

Like many other aging baby-boomers, the Takoma Park Library, could use some room to expand.

Constructed in 1955, the flat, one-story, modern-style building might get built out, but there are obstacles in every direction. To the south are venerable trees nobody wants to knock down. To the north is the city’s community center. To the west is a parking lot. There’s a precious mosaic on the library’s east wall. Up is not possible, the building can’t support a second story. Down? Costly.

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Architect Greg Lukmire presented three options to the city council Feb. 9: They ranged from small to large, getting more expensive as they grew – not only in money but in sacrifice.

Lukmire Partnership has designed a number of Maryland and Virginia libraries, as well as other public buildings.

The first option ($1.4 million construction cost) adds 9, 314 square feet. The addition is small, most of the work goes into re-modeling the interior space and bringing it up to ADA compliance – i.e. making it handicapped-accessible.

The architect warned, however, that even though Option 1 adds a bit of room to the north, the library would actually lose space for books, seating or staff if it were brought up to ADA compliance. That requires enlarging the bathrooms and widening aisles

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Option 2 ($2.3 million construction cost) adds 13,152 square feet. The addition is on the south side, extending the library toward Philadelphia Avenue, stopping just short of the two most precious trees.

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Option 3 ($2.6 million construction cost) adds 13,780 square feet. It is similar to Option 2, but bumps out more on the south-western corner – what is now the Children’s Room. This would involve moving the outside mosaic. Fortunately, it was constructed on panels so, in theory, it can be removed and relocated.

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All of the designs add more and bigger windows, letting in more light. The current, high, small windows were functional in 1955, allowing room for tall shelves.

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Alternative designs for Option 2. Plans and renderings from Lukmire Partnership presentation.

Lukmire praised the existing library building. He called it an “important example” of modern-style architecture. The rough designs he showed were respectful of the original style.

The council will discuss whether to proceed with library improvements and which, if any, of the options they prefer.

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Takoma Park library Information/circulation desk.