Surprisebrary 2011

Prairie Dog Paul Dechene Posted on April 22, 2011

Have A Look At Your New Library

Got a tip this morning (thanks Chris) that Milkovich Architects have posted about their plans for our new downtown branch of the library. Here are some pics that have gone up over on the skyscraperpage forum.

According to the write up, the new Central Branch is supposed to be a “porch to the park” — Victoria Park, that is. It will include, in addition to the library, a theatre, art gallery, hotel and commercial space.

You’ll note that the Masonic Temple seems to be missing in these pics. Scuttlebutt on skyscraperpage (from a poster who’s supposed to be “in the know”) is that the building will be moved. Where to? No idea.

So what does everybody think? Best thing ever or not?

Surprisebrary

Leaked pics mean it’s time to talk

by Vanda Schmöckel                                                          http://www.prairiedogmag.com/archive/?id=765

Earlier this month, while prairie dog was collectively distracted by that big political occurrence we’re not talking about, images of a proposed redesign of Regina Public Library’s central branch were published on the website of Milkovich Architects of Vancouver.

The drawings of a vaguely ship-like, glassy structure that would take up the space currently occupied by the RPL central branch and its neighbour the Masonic Temple, provoked responses from Dog Blog readers ranging from elation to despair.

Milkovich quietly removed the images from their site a few days after they were first discovered. (They can still be viewed at prairiedogmag.com.)

So, are the RPL and the City to settling on plans for a redesign?

According to RPL Board Chair Darlene Hincks, not at all.

“Actually, that isn’t the proposed new design,” she says. “There are several different options that the steering committee is looking at, and we haven’t released anything because we haven’t made any decisions.”

Hincks says that the public will be consulted about any new development with the RPL’s central branch, though it is perhaps telling that the Friends of the Regina Public Library (a community group that advocates for the library system and was involved in the early discussions of the main branch redesign) were as surprised to see these proposed plans as everyone else.

“Right now they’re saying it’s just a concept plan and that’s supposed to mean it’s okay,” Friends chair Joanne Havelock says. “But I think for P3 [a local architecture firm that’s been working with the library] to have gotten another architecture firm to do some work and develop designs … kind of suggests to me that their ideas are fairly far down the road.

“And, what concerns me is that the public hasn’t seen anything for a year and a half.”

The Milkovich plans posted on the Internet proposes incorporating commercial space and a hotel tower along with the library – interesting inclusions considering Harvard Developments is one of the key partners in the redevelopment – and this raises questions around how any public/private partnership might impact the RPL’s Central branch.

“Well, whoever owns the building owns the building,” Havelock says. “The library [could] end up paying rent or taking out a lease for the rest of its life. So the RPL [might not] necessarily have control over the building.”

Meanwhile, the City is assuring the public that it will be consulted on any developments around the branch, which, along with the Masonic Temple, is part of the Victoria Park Heritage conservation district.

As such, according to Jason Carlston, general manager of planning and development, any alterations would be required to go to City council for approval.

“But there’s nothing formally in with the city from the Library at this point,” Carlston says. “It does become a public process if there’s a formal application.”

Small comfort. Waiting until council has a redevelopment plan in hand is awfully late in the game for community input. And one has to wonder, if the steering committee has already made it to the stage where they’re considering different options, why is the public only finding out about this by accident?

Leaked concept sketches after nearly two years of silence hardly seems like an open, inclusive consultation.

Maybe it’s getting near time to call a meeting.

“Let’s have consultations before the summer,” says Havelock. “Get public feedback and we can all feel more positive about the project.”

P3 Architecture was misidentified in the originally-published version of this story. Prairie dog regrets the error, which occurred during editing.