Library proposal plans need more scrutiny
June 22, 2012
Like several other writers, I too think the City Council should reject or, at a minimum, defer approval of the requested planning-area amendment and Galena Plaza development easement sought by the library to cover its proposed new facilities. The outsized canopy roof proposed by the library – which would cover several thousand square feet of an existing city plaza – would harm both public and private interests.
As Kent Reed, director of the Reed Hudson Ensemble, eloquently wrote in Monday’s Aspen Times, “The Galena Plaza is a beautiful enclave in the heart of the city with wonderful view planes and trees” and should be conserved “as a performance space and park.”
It is apparent from the extensive design and planning process for the library expansion that alternative – and significantly less intrusive – architectural and engineering solutions already exist for roofing the new space planned on the eastern plaza side of the building. These alternatives are detailed in Exhibit 5 to the library’s February submission to the council (see http://www.pitcolib.org/media/uploads/1_-_LU_App_text_and_exhibits.pdf).
They include options for keeping wholly within the library’s existing 44-foot plaza easement or using a flat roof with a more limited porch that is largely supported, not by placing columns and an enormous canopy an additional 16 feet out into the existing plaza (for a total of 60 feet) but by adding a smaller flat roof and extending the load-bearing structure along transfer beams underneath the deck of the plaza. These options deserve to be more fully investigated by the full council.
Other imaginative alternatives might be even more desirable (and also less intrusive), such as the retractable or “fingered” roof options that were raised by Mayor Mick Ireland and others at the council’s June 11 public meeting on the library expansion.
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I am also concerned that the current roofing plan would apparently lead to chopping down several approximately 30-foot conifers on the plaza to the detriment of all who use this space.
In sum, there are compelling reasons for the City Council to request that the library seek an alternative roof design. A modern public library that has ample natural light (a major reason given for the addition) is to be welcomed. However, there is simply no need to construct such an addition at the expense of blocking the natural light and vistas that the public and nearby residents now enjoy across Galena Plaza.
Hence, I strongly urge the council to reject any SPA amendment or easement that would permit this to happen.