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Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill hired to renovate Glencoe Public Library

Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill hired to renovate Glencoe Public Library

Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill hired to renovate Glencoe Public Library

The Glencoe Public Library Board has taken another step toward renovating its building by hiring a prominent architectural firm to create a space master plan.

This marks the latest chapter in a process after the board of directors adopted a five-year strategic plan in April 2023 with facility improvement as one of the objectives.

The board has selected Chicago-based firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) as it contemplates the future of the approximately 20,500-square-foot library.

SOM is a well-known name in the architecture community, having worked on many high-profile projects in Chicago. The group has also designed several libraries across the country. It was selected from a group of 15 companies that responded to a request for qualifications issued by the library.

“At a time when spaces for learning and gathering are rapidly evolving, libraries are more important than ever, and the vitality of the Glencoe Public Library demonstrates this perfectly,” Adam Semel, partner at SOM, said in the release. and resident of Glencoe. “We are proud and honored to partner with Glencoe to chart its future through this master plan.”

SOM is expected to have its assessment of the building opened in 1941 complete by the end of the year, according to library executive director Andrew Kim.

He believed the space assessment would give the board and staff a better idea about the size and scope of any potential renovation, including design, planning and cost estimates. There are currently three scenario options for the renovation.

The space needs assessment comes after a 2021 capital needs assessment that identified more than $2 million in capital repair and maintenance costs needed over a 20-year period at the library, Kim said. He acknowledged those estimates are likely higher now.

Kim said the proposed smaller plan would improve the layout and configuration of the basement. However, he said he would prefer a moderate plan with renovation of the first level or an “ideal” plan that made changes to the entire building and built an addition to the building.

Kim said at this time staff does not know how much any project would cost.

Regardless of the plan selected, Kim does not anticipate a massive change in the library’s appearance.

“For any project, we want to preserve as many of the historic elements of this building as possible. We recognize that that is our motive and our design,” he said. “We know the community is very happy with the look of the building.”

However, he said officials want to implement aspects to transform the space into a 21st-century library, such as additional study rooms, open spaces, program areas, increased staff space, better sight lines into the building and more security measures. security.

Kim said the library could probably fund the smallest of the three options, but would have to look elsewhere to pay for the larger plans. The library statement indicated that a loan or fundraiser was possible.

Kim noted that the board does not have a “big appetite” to put a referendum on selling bonds to voters.

“It’s obviously an option for us,” he said. “It’s not the best option, first let’s see if we can finance this internally.”

Kim did not offer a specific date for when construction would begin if the board approves a project, but he would like to see it begin as soon as possible.

“We are not an organization that rushes,” he said. “We take a methodical approach to everything.”

The library’s fiscal year 2024 budget had revenues of $3.4 million, representing 3% of the village’s property tax bill.

Library officials say that once renovation begins, the building will remain open, but likely in modified conditions. It is unknown how long construction will take until the scope is known.

The last major renovation, which added approximately 20% new space to the building, occurred in 2001. The building’s HVAC system was subsequently upgraded in 2017.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.