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Brookfield Library board picks concept for new building

Walls of glass designed to showcase community institution

October 23rd, 2018 1:03 PM

Brookfield Public Library trustees have selected a preferred design concept for a new building that showcases the library as an institution and also allows those outside to glimpse the services it provides inside. Architects will fine tune the design over the next couple of months before submitting plans to the village for review. | Image courtesy of the Brookfield Public Library

By Bob Uphues

Editor

Brookfield Public Library's Board of Trustees has chosen a conceptual design for its proposed new facility – one that literally puts the library and what goes on inside of it on display to the community.

The concept picked by the library board at a special meeting on Oct. 8 is markedly different than the plan approved by the library and village boards prior to a funding referendum that was voted down by residents in 2016. 

That prior plan, with its rather impenetrable brick central tower and Prairie-style forms has given way to walls of glass, allowing glimpses of the activity going on inside.

The way the building is set back on the lot and its corner entry stairs, which allow patrons to approach the doors from both Lincoln and Park avenues also give the building a monumental feel.

"I like that the library will be on display," said architect Dan Pohrte of Product Architecture and Design, the firm hired earlier this year by the library board. "The windows allow passersby – pedestrians and in vehicles – to see activity inside. In terms of the idea of marketing the library, you want patrons to understand the activities inside without being physically in the building."

The design hearkens back in some ways to mid-20th century architecture, with its use of glass and its form emphasizing structure, but its use of color also makes the design more inviting than forbidding. The choice for the color is the familiar brown of the existing library across the street.

But, unlike the present building with its large expanses of brick and small windows, whose interior curtains close off the library to the outside world, Product Architecture's design is extroverted, welcoming.

And its scale, compared to the design approved by the library board in advance of the 2016 referendum is at the same time understated and appears to fit better with the residential character of the neighborhood.

According to Pohrte, however, there have been no decisions made on building materials at this time.

"We haven't made any material decisions for the building yet and expect this to be flushed out more with the cost estimate," Pohrte said in an email responding to a question from the Landmark. "We are, of course, interested in the building working within the context of the community, but our concern would be people forming opinions (positive or negative) prior to a direction being established with the library within their budget."

Library Trustee Adam Burghgraef, who is an architect, said the design was reflective of the community and contemporary libraries, combining modern design with traditional building materials.

"It's reflective of libraries as a whole, how they continue to evolve, of how forward-thinking the library is," Burghgraef said in a telephone interview last week.

Library board President Linda Kampschroeder was out of the country and not available for comment.

Product Architecture gave the library board five concepts to choose from, all of them variations on a theme and some emphasizing exterior transparency more than others and emphasizing the use of different building materials and color palettes.

Pohrte emphasized the conceptual nature of the preferred design, and said design elements could change by the time the library board lands on a final preferred plan. 

For example, in the preferred plan, the wall of windows shown on the north side of the second floor is likely to be changed, because of privacy and light concerns residential neighbors to the north may have.

It may be a month or more before the architects are ready to submit a planned unit development application to the village for initial review. Until that time the architects will work with their engineers and village engineers to finalize those matters, while the architect's cost estimators refine the numbers to keep the project within budget.

"It's going to take some time for them to work out the kinks and price it out," said Burghgraef. "With each step you hope the estimates get a little harder and defined."

Below you'll find the presentation of all design concepts given to the library board by Product Architecture and Design on Oct. 8. Library trustees chose design 3D as their preferred concept.

Brookfield Library design concepts for new building by wednesdayjournal on Scribd

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Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark