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Architects raise height of Provo’s new library

SHARE Architects raise height of Provo’s new library

The new city library at Academy Square will be taller than originally planned.

A higher-than-expected water table on the University Avenue block has forced architects to redesign the structure, making it 14 feet taller. The first floor of the building would have been under about three feet of water with the old plan.The Library Construction Oversight Committee isn't sure if bringing the building out of the ground will drive up the estimated $22.2 million price tag. Reduced excavation costs might offset having to elevate the structure, said Alan DeWitt, Provo facility services director.

Apparently more worrisome is whether the taller structure - now projected to be about 30 feet high rather than 16 feet - will detract from the old Brigham Young Academy Education Building to which it will be attached. The academy building will be renovated as part of the project.

City officials and architects agreed early on that they didn't want the new building to compete visually with the historic building. They ruled out trying to duplicate the education building, settling on a contemporary, low-rise library to complement it.

Even so, Councilman Mark Hathaway said some residents have complained to him that the two buildings are incompatible.

Architect Rob Pett said the new plan will attempt to minimize the aesthetic impact the new building has on the old. He's considering several materials for the facade, including brick similar in color to the education building.

The floor plan for the 44,870-square-foot library changed slightly with the taller building, but library director Gene Nelson said it will be just as functional. Parking for 350 cars above and below ground won't change.

"We feel pretty comfortable with it," he said.

A landscaped rooftop and sculpture garden, however, will be lost in the new design. Library patrons would only be able to see it from the second floor of the education building, and forgoing it will save money. It also would be unsafe to have people on the roof of the taller building, DeWitt said.

Mayor Lewis Billings said a ground-level garden or amphitheater similar to the one at the existing library might be worked into the new plan.

City departments will review final drawings next month, and a final cost estimate is expected later this summer. The contractor will be obligated to guarantee the library is constructed at or under the $22.2 million budget, $16.8 million of which comes from a voter-approved bond. The Brigham Young Academy Foundation raised the rest. Billings said he's optimistic the revised plan will come in on budget.

Officials anticipate the library will be complete in mid-2000.