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Final Construction Documents Nearly Complete For New Central Library

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It will be a few more months before the Wichita City Council decides whether the new $30 million central library project will move forward and be built.

The new central library, now called the “Advanced Learning Library,” was supposed to go out for bid this month according to a deal reached last January, but the project’s not ready for a vote. There’s still work to be done on the building design plan and final construction documents.

The City Council approved this design phase of the project when it entered into a partnership with the Wichita Public Library Foundation, a nonprofit that supports services at Wichita’s public libraries.

The agreement called for the Foundation to pay the estimated cost of $1.1 million for the design work with the contingency that the city would put the project out for bid by the end of the year. The payment was to be split: The Foundation would pay $500,000 this year and the remaining balance in 2016.

Tom Montgomery of GLMV Architecture says it will now be mid-February before City Council members will have a chance to review the plans for the new library and vote on whether to move forward with construction.

One element to be finalized: the public art component. An artist charrette was held last week. Local artists, city officials and the design team met to discuss opportunities in the building design where art could be incorporated.

“One of the artist suggestion was maybe a portion of the wall be a stainless steel and an art form that might create a little more interest and enhance the design for the building,” Montgomery says.

Other ideas from the team of seven artists include a mobile near crystal light shafts, repetitive artistic patterns in flooring and paving, and a sculpture to be located near the east entrance.

Montgomery says the goal is to integrate the art forms into the materials already being used for building construction. If approved, the new central library would be built near the corner of 2nd Street and McLean, near The Exploration Place.

He says they had to bring the documents up to a certain point before they could develop the public art component.

“They can take and look at that and give us their input on how we can make things more interesting or apply art in ways that are consistent with the overall design of the building,” Montgomery says.

He says the artists’ ideas will be narrowed down, and final plans will be presented to the city’s Design Council by mid-January.

After that review, the construction documents can be presented to the City Council for approval.