Plainsboro Township Committee voted to move ahead with plans for the new library, based on a schematic design presented on Wednesday, June 14. As proposed, the new library will stand at one end of the green at the Village Center and incorporate elements of modern design that the architects say will complement the traditional look of the retail and residential portions of the Village Center.
Representatives from BKSK, the Manhattan-based company that created the initial design along with Librarian Ginny Baeckler, unveiled renderings for a three-story, 34,000 square foot, $12 million library.
As early as May, 2008, the new Plainsboro Library could be open, and would include a cafe, an art gallery, two roof terraces, a science center, an oversize elevator, and a third floor entirely dedicated to children's books and activities.
The idea behind the rendering, according to head designer Robert Schieferdecker, is to incorporate the building into the rest of the Village Center Development by "hearkening back to the vocabulary of the Village Green architecture while differentiating from it. We were looking for a way to make this an open and inviting structure with modern dynamic of today's expression in the building."
In other words, the structure will be brickface with white trim, to complement the rest of the buildings in the Village Center. It will set itself apart from the Center's throwback architecture with a glass entrance, front wall, and tower. The glass-front design allows for a suffusion of natural light, a design feature expected to cut energy costs in the long run.
Another feature being considered is a ground source heating and cooling system. If included, the cost is estimated at $500,000, but could save up to $50,000 per year in energy costs. Grover Middle School uses a similar system.
Baeckler praised Schieferdecker for his vision and for having listened to her requests. She has worked with the company since 2002, when the township originally commissioned an expansion of the current library. When that proved too costly and impractical, the decision was made to build an entirely new structure in the Village Green. Sharbell Development, contractors for the entire Village Center project, donated the land to the township. Scheiferdecker also showed plans for a two-story version, but did not recommend pursuing it. Its problems include necessitating locating the children's section in a basement, and a cost nearly equivalent to -- and possibly greater than -- the three-story concept.
The pictured design, with which Committee agreed to move forward, features elements that will allow the librarian to create new programs, and to expand the scope and reach of current offerings. Says Baeckler: "We have programs that we can't publicize because too many people would show up, and [the current library] can't accommodate them all."
Baeckler says that the proposed design will likely change before the project enters the construction phase. "This is a starting point," says the librarian. "The changes will probably not be radical."
Now that the schematic design has been presented, the project enters design development phase. Baeckler will continue to work with BKSK as it adds more detail and specificity to the plans. Construction could begin as early as May, 2007.