Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
A long-anticipated replacement facility for the Forest Park branch of the Clayton County Library System is close to becoming a reality, the head of the library system has said.
Library officials have said multiple times over the last few years, that a new facility has been needed to replace the current, 44-year-old library branch facility in Forest Park. Carol Stewart, the library system's director, said the current facility is confined to a small space, has little in the way of parking, and cannot have wiring for new technology installed in its walls, because they are made of concrete-filled cinderblocks.
"It's small, and it's inflexible, and it can't be used in new ways," Stewart said.
On Thursday evening, Stewart, along with a team of architects, and a construction project manager, unveiled plans for a new facility for the Forest Park Library branch, during a meeting of the Southside Forest Park Homeowners Association, Inc.
Stewart said construction is expected to begin soon on the new, $4.57 million library branch, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012.
The new library branch will be located at the corner of North Avenue and West Street, in Forest Park, which Stewart said is just half a block from the city's current library branch. At 16,000-square feet in size, the new facility will be twice the size of the current library building, she said. The library system director also said the new library facility's parking lot will have 44 spaces, which is twice the number of spaces at the current library.
The new, one-story building will have a computer lab with 20 computers; 36 other general use public computers, as well as 22 youth computers; a 40-seat multipurpose room; a teen room; a homework center; and a toddler area, according to an information sheet provided to attendees at the homeowners association meeting.
"I'm so excited we're finally here," said the library system director.
Two of the architects working on the building's design, Dan Gerding, of the Gerding Collaborative architectural firm, and Thomas Lockhart, of the Craig, Gaulden and Davis architectural firm, said the entire building will have a "raised floor" design, and two sides of the facility will be largely windows.
Gerding said the "raised floor" design allows electrical, mechanical and heating and cooling systems to be kept under the floor, with library officials being able to install new lines, or move around existing ones, by pulling up panels in the floor. Lockhart said incorporating glass window walls allows the library to take more advantage of daylight, meaning they need to use less interior lighting during the day.
"A lot of the glass we have in the building is for daylight to be used as a source of light in the building," Lockhart said.
Gerding said the building was designed to be built around existing oak trees at the site, because of what they could add to the library. "The trees were a significant driver of our approach to designing this building," he said. "We felt that was a nice view to look out on for the library. They also provide natural shade for the building."