- The new design of the Silver Spring Library includes a different kind of glass and crisscrossing escalators. (Image: Courtesy of The Lukmire Partnership)
When word came in August that the new Silver Spring Library building was $3 million over budget, people worried: would amenities and the striking design of the building be sacrificed in the name of saving money?
Well it now seems that the final product, which nearly closes the budget gap on the $29 million project, may actually be better than what was originally proposed, at least according to the building’s architects.
“I think we’ve gotten to the point where the design where it now stands is actually an improvement over the initial design, and at the same time has gotten us much closer to the budget as to where we need to be,” architect Greg Lukmire of The Lukmire Partnership said at a Tuesday night community meeting in Silver Spring.
At that meeting, architects went over the building design, and residents didn’t complain about the changes to the new library at Fenton Street and Wayne Avenue — most just had questions about the design of the interior, the pedestrian bridge proposal (nothing has been formerly reintroduced yet), and changes to surrounding roads to accommodate the library and a Purple Line stop.
The old design included: a straight, three-floor escalator; two elevators; structural glass on the building’s football-shaped dome entrance on Fenton Street; and seven floors, including community rooms on the seventh, Montgomery County offices on the sixth, the library on the fifth, fourth, and third, artist studios on the second, and a coffee shop, art retail store, and Purple Line stop on the first floor.
The new design now includes: four crisscrossing escalators; four elevators; curtain glass on a smaller domed entrance; seven floors but the possibility of cutting a floor of county offices; and moving artist studios to the sixth floor and community rooms to the second floor.
The final design doesn't reduce the 65,000 square-feet dedicated to the library and still includes a Purple Line stop and makes space for a pedestrian bridge linking to the Wayne Avenue garage, if the county council approves it.
Most of the changes have been made to cut space, such as crisscrossing escalators and moving the community rooms to the second floor. Having the community rooms on the seventh floor would have required an extra staircase, according to the fire code, so by moving the rooms, Lukmire said they have eliminated the need to make room for an extra stairwell.
Now Pyramid Atlantic’s artist studios will be separated from the retail store on the first floor, but that isn’t a problem for the group’s executive director, Jose Dominguez.
“It’s got great light, and you’re out by the green roof,” he said of moving to the sixth floor. “We’re for it and it also saves the library money.”
As a final, cost-cutting measure, the county may cut Health and Human Services offices on the seventh floor. And that’s something residents could be divided on, when it comes time to make that decision.
Resident Barbara Sanders, for instance, wouldn’t be opposed to nixing county office space.
“I think there’s plenty of office space in the county,” she said. “We need the meeting space. That’s the most important part to me.”
Dan Slater, who said “the design refinements are an improvement,” thinks that moving county offices from a leased building to a county-owned one makes fiscal sense.
“That’s a little short-sighted if the county is renting space,” he said. “They will probably save money in the long-term.”
The county office issue is still unresolved, as are the building’s color schemes and building materials. In the meantime, work on undergrounding and moving utilities is already underway and could last about nine to 10 months
Construction won’t start for another year and once it does, it will last 24 months. If all goes according to plan, opening day will be in January 2014.