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Architects compile ideas

Participants provide range of thoughts for new library building
Architects compile ideas

by Laura Walz Architects hired by Powell River Public Library are developing a concept design for a new building on the waterfront lot commonly referred to as the old arena site.

In March, City of Powell River council selected the vacant lot on the corner of Marine Avenue and Abbotsford Street as the preferred location for a new library. Soon after, the library issued a request for proposals for a project manager and subsequently hired MHPM Project Managers, Inc.

In October, the library issued a request for proposals for architectural services to prepare a design concept for a new library. The Miller Hull Partnership, from Seattle, Washington, was selected from eight companies that responded to the request for proposals. The firm is working with Public Architecture and Communications, a Vancouver company.

Miller Hull is developing the conceptual design of a new library with library staff user groups and interested community stakeholders. They’ve entered into a comprehensive community engagement approach including three interactive community engagement events and other community consultation strategies.

The first engagement meeting was held on November 28 at Powell River Recreation Complex.

Ruth Baleiko, a principal at Miller Hull who is the lead architect on the project, Brian Wakelin, an architect and principal at Public, and Gerald Longson, a principal with MHPM, led participants in a brain-storming session to gather ideas of what they would like to see in a new building. After a break, participants broke into smaller groups to fine tune broad concepts.

Longson provided a brief history of Powell River’s library, which has been in its current location for about 60 years. “It’s small,” he said. “It’s just over 5,000 square feet...It’s way undersized, for both a community of this size as well as some of the current and future uses that we see libraries needing.”

The old arena site is designated for public use, Longson also said, and is zoned correctly for a new library building. “That’s one of the sites that went forward to council,” he said. “Council has supported the library and said that that’s a good site and that’s where they’d like to see the library.”

Charlie Kregel, Powell River’s chief librarian, said 75 people signed into the meeting. “I think it went really well,” he said. “People told me they felt quite engaged and quite excited about the prospects of participating in creating a library. They’re looking forward to when the architects return with some preliminary designs, so they can do some drafting work with them in January.”

The results of the meeting will be posted on the library’s website, Kregel said, as well as a new website set up for this process.

The architects plan to come back with three different designs, said Kregel. “That will, hopefully, prompt some vigorous discussion among the participants in that meeting,” he said. “We’ll also be talking to several other groups in the community as much as we can and try to get everyone’s feedback.”

Notices of meetings and other information related to the project will also be posted on the new library website.