Primed with residents’ input, library system moves forward with Bay Village branch

Bay Village residents shared their opinions about the new library building  in small group exercises during community engagement sessions. Photo courtesy Cuyahoga County Public Library

Lots of natural light. A hangout space for teens. Quiet rooms for reading. Meeting rooms for groups. Honor tradition. Adapt to change. More technology. More books.

Bay Village residents shared their opinions on all aspects of the new library building, exterior and interior, during a second round of community engagement sessions that concluded on Nov. 13.

The sessions were held by Cuyahoga County Public Library to gather public input and ensure that residents felt that their voices were being heard after the first round of planning was scuttled earlier this year. An architectural rendering presented at a public meeting in March was panned on social media and a flood of negative feedback caused CCPL to take a step back and reevaluate the $7.5 million project.

With a renewed commitment from Mayor Paul Koomar and members of City Council, the library system rebooted the process a few months later, hiring a new architecture firm and arranging four community input sessions.

CCPL Executive Director Sari Feldman described the sessions as “an opportunity for residents to hone in on their needs and wishes as it relates to a new branch library and its connection to the Bay Village community.”

The sessions, run by consulting firm TimeZero Enterprises, focused on extremes – traditional styling versus modern design, hard-copy books versus cutting-edge technology, individual needs versus community interaction – to gauge where on each spectrum a new library would best fit.

The responses gathered will form a set of “guiding design principles” to be used by HBM Architects, a nationally recognized firm based in Cleveland that has worked extensively in library design.

Peter Bolek, HBM’s president, offered a slideshow of libraries his firm has designed, from traditional to ultra-modern.

“We are very collaborative in our design process,” Bolek said. “We don’t feel there’s one size that fits all.”

Tracy Strobel, CCPL’s deputy director, outlined the next phases of the project during the capstone session at the Dwyer Center on Nov. 13. The library and the city will hold regular “check-in” meetings before moving on from each phase, and plans will have to go through the city’s Architectural Board of Review and Planning Commission.

Over the next few months, HBM will prepare a general schematic design to define interior and exterior concepts like aesthetic, materials, parking flow, floor plans, etc. Next up is the design development phase, scheduled for spring 2019, where specifics of the plan will be detailed – the exact type of brick, fabric for the chairs, bushes for exterior landscaping. Construction documents will be completed by late summer/early fall.

CCPL plans to break ground at the current site of the Bayway Cabin next fall, with construction expected to take one year. The new library building is expected to be open in late 2020.

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Volume 10, Issue 22, Posted 9:30 AM, 11.20.2018