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Architect and Construction Manager for Third Branch Selected

by aadl-news

In addition to the launch of a new website and the successful migration of our catalog over to Innovative Interfaces, Inc. this week, the Library also announced the selection of an architect and construction manager for the third branch library project that will replace the Northeast Branch. The branch located at Plymouth Mall will be replaced with a new facility at Traverwood and Huron Parkway and is scheduled to open late 2008/early 2009.

Van Tine | Guthrie Studio in Northville, MI teaming with Veazey, Parrott, Durkin and Shoulders from Evansville, IN were selected to design the new branch. Local construction company, O'Neal Construction, owned by Joe O'Neal, will be the construction manager for the project.

AADL opened the NEB 24 years ago and has remodeled and added space to accomodate demand and new services, but we struggle to sustain high standards of service in the current facility.


I realize that the demands on libraries have evolved dramatically in recent years and that it is a huge challenge to accommodate them all in a single small branch. That being said, I wish Mallett Creek didn't feel so much like a Kinko's. ;-)

Consider this a humble request to dial back the multimedia just a shade and dial up the cozy chairs, tall bookstacks, and brickwork.

And please pass on to the architect that the children's section should be an enclosed space! I can't take my two kids (aged 5 and 2) to the Malletts Creek branch because if I turn my back, one may have wandered away. After running up and down isles of books looking for a small (and speedy) person, I no longer feel comfortable taking my kids to that branch. One of the wonderful things about the downtown branch is having one, fairly narrow exit. Also, walls around the children's section (even just glass ones) would mean that when a kid has a meltdown, other library patrons would not have to listen to it. At Malletts Creek with its high ceilings a kid's tantrum is broadcast to the entire library. I'm hoping my kids will soon learn good library etiquette, but in the mean time, I feel terrible if they disturb someone who came to the library for a nice quiet place to think.

Although I live in the neighborhood and this new Northeast branch library will be within convenient walking distance for me, I am troubled by the environmental degradation its construction at Huron Parkway and Traverwood will cause. Large numbers of trees will have to be removed and hills flattened out at this site. Much impervious surface in terms of parking lots and buildings will be put in. All these changes will negatively effect the natural area and small ponds bordering this location. That is a real shame.

I really don't know what is wrong with the present location of the branch library at the shopping plaza. I think you should have looked to expand there first before destroying land with new buildings and asphalt.

rkuhlman, I am a member of the Library Board and live on Broadway, close to both the current branch and the proposed new one at Huron Parkway and Traverwood. I was also concerned about harm to the environment. However, it turns out that many, if not most, of the trees on this site are ashes, and are dead or dying because of the emerald ash borer. They will have to be removed anyway. We will be replacing the "landmark" trees with new ones. We hope to minimize the impervious surface, and are going to try for a design that actually results in the *enhancement* of this site.

I believe a better way to characterize the situation about trees at the Huron Parkway site for the new Northeast Branch Library is that some of the trees are Ashes not 'many, if not most'. Also dead ashes do not have to be removed because they were killed by the Emerald Ash Borer. Once an Ash is dead it is no longer a threat to spread to the Borer and in fact dead trees from most any cause are ecologically good things in woods because birds and other animals use them.

I really can't see how construction with whatever design on a green space with woods, hills, and adjacent to a pond and a natural area can possibly be an 'enhancement' of the site. Buildings and parking lots and access roads will be going into that space. These things were not there before. Previous winters I have gone into this area and found Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Hermit Thrushes, White-throated Sparrows, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Previous springs I have seen Eastern Commas, Mourning Cloaks, Spring Azures, and Red Admirals flying here. Once the Library puts the branch library here these pleasures are no longer possible.

In my opinion, more and bigger does not mean better for the Ann Arbor Library system especially when there is a negative, environmental cost.

Actually, new library construction is a fantastically cost-effective investment for the health of the environment. If we built 10,000 new branch libraries, one for every city in the United States, that would have about the same environmental footprint as the single McMansion development proposed for Milan -- and it would give tens of millions of citizens the tools they need to make sensible decisions about our habitat.

I like the spaciousness, increased collection size, and ease of parking at the Malletts Creek branch; that being said, the mall branches do have their advantages. I've popped in to these with out of town visitors who took the presence of a library branch in a shopping mall as a mark of supreme intellectual civilization on the part of our fair town.

I found the Kinkos comment of the earlier poster interesting. I too think some reading nooks would be a welcome addition. I quite like the reading area for magazines but something else in the books area would be nice. The Ypsilanti Library is, in my opinion, a model in this area, as is the EMU library.

I also strongly believe that the Malletts Creek reference desk needs seating for patrons asking questions. The librarians must crane their necks to see the patron, who must stoop over to view the computer screen. It also discourages reference interviews that last for more than a few moments, as does its proximity to the crowd at the circulation desk (no privacy). I hope this will be considered in the MC branch as well as future ones.

The poster's comment about mall branches is a good thought. What would it cost to put a branch in Briarwood?

I wonder if those people preferring that a new library stay in a shopping mall setting realize how complicated and not necessarily cost effective to the taxpayer it is when the library has to lease a property vs. own it - has no one noticed how often the northeast branch closes for flooding, sewage and electrical problems - that are surely connected to sharing a building with a diner that pours who knows what down the drain... and more. Ann Arbor is an amazingly lucky community to have a library system that is growing - not starving to death slowly - the way so many libraries in Michigan are - not to mention all over the country.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my blog posting announcing the architect and cm selection for the NEB site. There is no doubt that constructing a building on an undeveloped site will result in some degradation and disruption of the flora and fauna. The library has taken a very strong position about building responsibly at both Malletts Creek and Pittsfield and we will bring that same rigorous commitment to the new library at Traverwood and Huron.

Our primary mission is to provide the best public library service possible to our community. Our community is growing. While we have clearly made the decision to grow with our community, we have also made the decision to set an example about how to build efficient, functioning public libraries with more than a nod to sustainable standards. Keep the comments coming. They are informing and keep those of us responsible for the stewardship of public money focused.

I love the Northeast Branch!

Why? Because it is in the Plymouth Road mall.

I can run several errands at one time, on foot or on the bus. While the new building will be close, I will be less likely to go when I am already picking something up at the hardware store or grocers.

I love having a public space where it's okay to stay as long as I want without buying something, and where there's entertainment in the form of lots of great books. I like knowing that if I misjudge the time I spend shopping and miss a bus, I have somewhere nice to hang out.

I like the idea of checking out a book and getting an icecream right at the same place.

For me, all of the reasons to like this branch library are related to its current location. If it moves, I feel I might as well go to the main library. I realize that I would not have made much of an impact, but I sure wish I'd heard about the plan to move the library in time to make a fuss before decisions were made!

I thought it was the general consensus among most experts that good environmental design involves multiple use such is now available at the Northeast Branch library in Plymouth mall where you can fullfill a variety of needs besides those involving the library. Moving to a standalone site just means more single-purposing automobile trips which is a major part of what the ecologically disasterous model of suburban sprawl is all about.

I just don't buy the bigger and more is better idea. Bigger and more always comes at a cost--it is not free. The choice for the Ann Arbor Library system is not between expansion and death. It can exercise some restraint by not expanding its physical plant and not consuming more open land. It is important to remember in trying to satisfy every desire, we go down the damaging road of over-consumption. Ann Arbor already has enough bad examples of over-consumption, please let the Ann Arbor Library system not add more.

No matter how you slice it, libraries are far, far to the right-hand side of the curve in terms of being prudent consumers of land and resources. Even the most colossal libraries of the modern day stand out as glowing symbols of humility, accountability, communal spirit, and the sensible consumption of resources.

Thanks for all of the good feedback to this posting. We are moving forward with our plans for the branch at Traverwood and Huron to replace the service currently located in the Northeast Branch at the Plymouth Mall, and I will post new blog items about our progress as we go forward. If you have more to say about this building decision or design features that you hope to see incorporated, please email me at


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