Islanders react to latest library plans

Terrence Wagner, one of the architects designing an expanded version of the Vashon library, talks to Islanders at Thursday night
Terrence Wagner, one of the architects designing an expanded version of the Vashon library, talks to Islanders at Thursday night's public forum.
— image credit: Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

Schematic designs for the new Vashon Library elicited mostly positive responses from Islanders who attended a Thursday meeting in which architects revealed two similar options for the library's expansion.

Architects from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a Seattle firm hired by the King County Library System to design the branch at Ober Park, created the designs after considering over 200 comments collected at a previous open house when three conceptual designs were presented.

Robert Miller, one architect who addressed the small crowd that attended the meeting at McMurray Middle School, said many Islanders expressed that they liked the library how it is, while others wanted to see something new and fresh. The firm, he said, attempted to meet both requests.

“We found a way to keep the existing library with the metal roof and add a very simple form,” Miller told the group.

Terrence Wagner, another architect who presented at the meeting and then talked with Islanders individually about the plans, said he heard mostly positive feedback on the designs. “I think they liked the fact that it is light and airy and opened the view up into to the park. I think that's the number one thing people like.”

Each of the designs feature large windows on the west side of the building; one has slightly more window space than the other.

“That really is the main difference between these schemes,” said Wagner, adding that the designs also place the computers and non-fiction sections in different places.

Wagner said those he talked with also liked that the 3,600-square-foot addition freed up more space in the library for bookshelves, chairs, desks and reading areas and included a larger meeting room than the current library now has.

Librarian Rayna Holtz was especially pleased to see plans for the meeting room, which would open up to the library to accommodate even more people. Holtz said the current meeting room is too small for sizable meetings and that, as a result, library-sponsored events are often held off the library campus. “The size of the room will not be the limiting factor anymore,” she said.

Holtz also liked that meeting room and children's area featured large windows that would face the playground at Ober Park. She said parents could easily keep an eye on their children at the park from inside the library.

In true Vashon style, the library plans also include several green features. Perhaps most apparent is the green or living roof. On the building's addition, asphalt shingles or other conventional roofing materials would be replaced by a membrane supporting a thin layer of soil and plants such as sedums, mosses and grasses.

Miller said such a roof would last longer, slow rainwater run-off and provide habitat for songbirds. “It also insulates the building quite nicely,” he added.

Mike Collins, who chairs the park district’s board of commissioner and attended the meeting, said he was pleased with the designs and how the new library would interact with the park. Along with the expansion, architects created plans to build a path between the library and the park district offices, extend one of the berms and install a rain garden in the park, which would absorb runoff and reduce standing water in the park during wetter times of the year.

“This is definitely a complement to the park. … I'm very pleased,” Collins said.

Wagner said that once all comments are considered, the firm will begin the construction drawings and permitting process. Contractors will likely break ground at the end of 2011 or early in 2012.

While the firm is most interested in learning which design Islanders like best, they are still open to all suggestions. “Nothing is really set in stone,” Wagner said.

Designs for the Vashon Library can be viewed at the library or online by visiting Comment cards are also available at the library.

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