Hennepin County’s plan to replace the Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Avenue, continues to move forward. VJAA was selected as the project architect in September 2010 following an RFP process that resulted in 21 teams responding.
Tonight, the Walker Community Advisory Committee had a Pre-Design Meeting where the project team, consisting of Hennepin County staff and Vincent James Associates Architects (VJAA), met with the community and the Committee members to discuss VJAA’s background, the components of the pre-design process, project schedule, and additional comments on the committee’s vision statement (pdf).
The proposed $12 million library is projected to move from into schematic design (concept development) phase in February 2011 with the community getting a glimpse of the concepts sometime that month. The Hennepin County Board will weigh in on the plans a couple of times through the design process, with fully complete plans expected by the end of 2011.
Construction is anticipated to start in spring 2012 and be fully complete in early summer 2013, with occupancy expected in August 2013. Hennepin County staff stated that the construction phase may be quicker than represented thus far once plans are more developed. During construction, it is likely that the Walker Library will be closed and that nearby libraries will see increased hours to better accommodate the community. When asked about why the schedule seemed so long, Hennepin County stated that it was “not a long schedule” given the process of engaging the community more than some of the other library projects the County has done.
The design is expected to result in a single story, single-use building (perhaps with a mezzanine or second floor). While parking seems to be a concern, what sounds clear is that some parking will be provided for staff, those in need of handicapped parking stalls, and potentially some additional stalls for guests. VJAA representatives stated that everything was on the table and that they are meeting with consultants on traffic planning, structural conditions of the existing building, etc. The existing parking deck is not compliant with today’s codes, though it doesn’t pose a safety hazard currently. It is unknown if the existing foundation or walls are able to be reused for the future building.
VJAA said they believe they have a “mandate” to better integrate the library to the sidewalk, as the current library is underground and many have complained about the detachment of the library from its surroundings. One attendee reminded VJAA that there has been a desire by some to better integrate the library with the Midtown Greenway to promote and support alternative transportation.
For more information on the project, please visit the Walker Community Advisory Committee website.