With construction ongoing for the past year, the $20 million renovation that will eventually become the new and improved Scarsdale Public Library — and a community hub — has started to take shape.
Library director Beth Bermel and the library’s Building Committee chair Diane Greenwald gave a construction update at the Scarsdale Board of Trustees meeting July 9 and described what can be anticipated in the months ahead.
Bermel said the slabs have been poured for all the additions, including the west and south sides of the building, the new meeting room and the café area.
Greenwald said a lot has been happening underground, such as plumbing.
“This project was driven by many things, but accessibility was a major thing so all people can get into all spaces,” Greenwald said.
The top space will house administrative offices, the ground floor will host most of the library services and the basement will feature a makerspace, storage space, a bathroom and space for staff members. A new staircase with room for a new elevator were built to better utilize the space.
Perhaps most exciting to those following the project is that the framing for the interior is built and a roof is now on the additions.
“When the board took a tour of the facilities, they could stand on the slab and look out to the pond and get a sense of how much bigger the library is,” Bermel said.
This project will expand the 31,000-square-foot building located at 54 Olmsted Road by about 10,000 net square feet — about a third bigger than the former space.
As a village that prides itself on being a village in a park, the library project is part of that narrative with huge windows to let in plenty of natural light. In addition, the new library’s color palette will be soft, sophisticated and natural to complement the park, Greenwald said, giving a natural outdoors feel to the interior design. The palette of warm and cool tones — shades of navy, gray, white, teal, burnt orange and raspberry — will reflect the surrounding nature, and the goal is to have an inviting look overall so patrons should want to extend their stay and to read, gather and learn.
Inside, spaces are organized by a hierarchy of noise, including a designated quiet room, collaborative workrooms, a teen area, program space and a café gathering space.
Balancing style and comfort has been essential in designing the interior space.
“What’s comfortable for me may not be as comfortable for someone else,” Greenwald said.
The committee considered the different ways people use the library, which also helped determine the types of furniture that would be used.
Materials for the exterior were selected to integrate the new addition into the original 1950s building, the 1970s addition and the surrounding environment.
Dattner Architects helped with the design process.
So far, Bermel said, the renovation is about 40 percent complete. Costs and approved contracts are tracking according to the original budget plan.
“We’ve had some delays, but nothing significant,” she said.
Despite this project being a Wicks Law project, Bermel said things are running smoothly.
The Wicks Law requires government agencies in New York to hire four separate contractors for general construction, plumbing, electrical work and heating and ventilation. Government officials must coordinate the contractors because no contractor has authority over the others.
The library is using Pleasantville-based Savin Engineers’ Nancy Barbera as the chief overseer of the renovation project.
During construction, the library is set up in a temporary space in Supply Field with library business and many programs being conducted as usual.
The project has been made possible through a public/private partnership between taxpayers and individual donors.
In 2017, the village board of trustees voted to approve a $9.9 million bond toward the project’s estimated costs.
The library’s capital campaign committee — charged with raising the remaining money for the project — raised more than $8 million from about 500 donors. So far, there’s more funding available for the project than its anticipated cost.
“Most of the money is pledge payment,” Bermel said at the July 9 presentation. “Those are being paid on time.”
Engraved pavers have been designed to acknowledge donors.
Not only will this renovation result in a library building that’s more modern in design, but it also will enable the library to offer more programs and to collaborate with other village entities, such as the Weinberg Nature Center and the Scarsdale Rec Camp.
As the times have changed and evolved, so has the library’s mission.
The new focus for many public libraries is to provide a space for the community to learn together.
“I find that in this technological age, it’s more necessary to have a gathering place to see your neighbors and share ideas,” Bermel said. “It’s a neutral space [where] you can learn.”
Bermel said she’s hoping for a grand reopening in late summer 2020.