Lakewood Public Library Expansion Begins

Over the past year the Lakewood Public Library administration and Board of Trustees have been working with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, an internationally recognized leader in public library design on the expansion and renovation of Lakewood's Main Library.

Lakewood Public Library's choice of Robert A.M. Stern - a modern traditionalist acclaimed for his ability to adapt historical styles to a contemporary context and integrating buildings in their settings - speaks forcefully and intelligently to the unique qualities of Lakewood. The great hope of Lakewood's citizens for their city and library is clearly established in the library's building program and choice of architect. Robert A.M. Stern Architects is known for beautiful, cost-effective, long-lasting, memorable, successful and welcoming buildings. Projects include the Nashville Public Library, Bangor Public Library, Clearwater Public Library, Miami Beach Library, the Main Library in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Main Library in Columbus, Georgia.

Under Mr. Stern's leadership, Robert A.M. Stern Architects is providing Lakewood Public Library and the citizens of Lakewood with a well-designed library that meets the functional needs of program, while complimenting our downtown neighborhood context and reinforcing the character and vitality of our city.

"Our design for the Lakewood Public Library speaks with the language of American civic architecture," says Alex Lamis, AIA, Partner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

"It follows a grammar, a set of rules about proportion, scale, and composition. The more ancient architectural language of Classicism, which has informed our design, can ultimately be traced back to the world of Greece and Republican Rome, and to the idea of democracy. In American history, as well as in the collective consciousness of most Americans, civic life plays itself out in buildings conceived in Classical terms. If the language of our building is classical, the dialect it speaks is distinctly American, with its pragmatic layout, and openness to the street life of Detroit Avenue," says Lamis.

The size of the facility will increase from approximately 55,000 square feet to 99,000 square feet. There will be substantial increases in space for children's services, technology, audio-visual services, public seating and shelving capacity. A grand reading, quiet room, auditorium and multipurpose room will support the library's program. Parking spaces will roughly double from its current capacity of 35.

"The library will be entered from Detroit Avenue beneath a new civic-scaled entry porch. Twin light sconces will flank the front door, giving a welcoming invitation to enter the building," says Lamis. "There will be a second new entry which will open directly to an expanded parking lot. Much like the kitchen door of many Midwestern houses it will provide a convenient, less formal way in (and like the kitchen door will probably be used most often). A new drop-off window will be provided for people who are in a hurry,"

"Gallery spaces will lead from both entrances to an expanded check-in desk. The galleries will have terrazzo floors, and will be a good place to exhibit art, or perhaps photographs of Lakewood, past and present," Lamis continues.

"Convenient to the entry and desk will be a large room holding popular materials- current newspapers and periodicals, new books, and some multi-media collections. A new children's library, with custom furniture and environments for exploration, along with expanded collections, will also be conveniently accessible to the circulation desk. A new room for children's programs will be featured," says Lamis.

A new grand stairway, skylit from above, will connect the three floors. "A similar type of stair can be seen in old photographs of the original library, but sadly it had been removed in one of the many previous renovations, " says Lamis. "We now have the opportunity to reconnect with the past while providing a great place to meet, and in the future, perhaps a place for art."

On the lower level, the technology center will be upgraded with new equipment and ergonomic furniture.

The upper floor will house the majority of your collections, spread between the new and existing buildings. The audio-visual collection will be located on this floor as well.

"We have also designed a grand reading room, a place that can serve as a living room for the entire community. With soaring ceilings, filtered natural light, and views overlooking Detroit Avenue, it will be like no other place in Lakewood," says Lamis.

Lakewood Public Library plays many roles in a community, including one involving economic development. "Across America, the public library is increasingly viewed not only as an educational and social center, but also as an economic engine which can drive urban redevelopment," says Lamis. "Modern, high quality library facilities bring people downtown who might not otherwise come. This in turn can help other businesses. Libraries can also be drawing cards to businesses thinking of moving into a community. High quality library systems, such as you enjoy in Lakewood, speak of a commitment to education, and its result, a high quality work force. Most importantly, libraries bring life to their community, and can point the way to an integrated neighborhood, with housing, stores and work-places, all within walking distance of the library."

Bids for the project will be received on July 1. Mobilization will follow the next week. The project will be phased in a way that should allow Main Library to remain open for access to materials, programs and services. The expected completion date for the project is March 2007.

Lakewood Public Library expansion

Robert A.M. Stern library projects
Read More on Library
Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 03.34 PM / 10th June 2005.