A Portland-based architectural firm and Fort Vancouver Regional Library (FVRL) have given local residents their first look at what a new downtown Washougal library might look like.
Hacker Architects presented its initial renderings of the proposed facility during two public meetings, held Wednesday, March 16, at the Children’s Home Society of Washington building and 54-40 Brewing Company in Washougal.
Hacker Architects employees Laura Klinger, Marissa Jordan and Amalie Reynaud showed four possible designs for the new building, outlined their vision for how it could fit into the current downtown aesthetic and took questions from the attendees, who later provided feedback via sticky notes.
“We love to develop libraries on this scale, from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, for communities where we can come and get to know them and the history and what’s important about them and interweave that into the design, so every design is different and is really rooted into (that community),” Klinger said during the first session of the day at the Children’s Home Society of Washington building. “We want to reflect the community of Washougal in the design. That’s why these meetings are really important — we want to hear from you.”
Hacker is planning for the new facility to be 13,360 square feet, taking most of the 17,250-square-foot lot earmarked for the new library on Durgan Street, between Main and “C” streets, according to Reynaud, who said the firm is in its “very, very early stages of the design process.”
“We’re studying the site itself and how these different programs can fit on it and where the ‘big rocks,’ so to speak, want to be on the site,” she said. “And of course, the important question is how does the outdoor space — the leftover site space, about 4,000 square feet — fit into the design of the building? The key differentiator (among the design options) is how we’re using those 4,000 square feet of extra site space, which we know is very important to the library and also to the community.”
All four of the design plans included separate areas for adults, teenagers and children that will hold a combined 45,000 books, periodicals and other materials; 46 seats for reading or computer use; and 32 lounge seats.
“With these adult spaces, the intent is really to be able to host a variety of uses — the more traditional quiet reading spaces and also room for collaboration and gathering with others,” Jordan said. “What’s important for children’s spaces in libraries that we’ve seen is flexibility, of course, but also learning through play, so it’s not just about books — it’s about the space and additional uses.
“And we heard a lot during our last community meeting that teens really wanted their own room,” Jordan continued. “We heard that from a couple of teens and we also heard that from everyone else. They want their own individual space to hang out with each other, a space for gaming, reading, and studying, that’s basically separate from the (rest of the) library.”
The design options also include a large, centrally located community meeting room that could hold between 86 (seated) and 186 (standing) people.
“This space would ideally be located central in the library space right off the lobby near the restrooms so that it could be used by the library program during the day but also rented out after hours for events and such,” Reynaud said. “The program also includes a smaller, six-to-10-person meeting room and two, two-to-four-person meeting rooms that could be rented out and used by groups for studying or quiet time, or (people) who needed to be a little bit louder.”
The first design incorporates six parking stalls and a one-way drive aisle with book drop into the leftover site space, with a main entry approximately 75 feet from Main Street.
“(The first option) looks at maybe squeezing some parking onto the site, which might be a little challenging,” Reynaud said. “You enter into a central lobby. The children’s reading room would be at the north end of the site and the adult reading room would be at the south end of the site, directly engaged with Main Street.”
“There’s a mixed-use, four-to-five-story building that is being designed for the neighboring lot just to the east of the site. We like to consolidate the program spaces that don’t need a lot of natural light or access along that edge, that property boundary there. You have your services and spaces that don’t need as much light to the east side of the property. Then the admin and staff offices would be at the north end, with windows to the north light and access point to the parking lot.”
The second design incorporates a recessed walkway along Durgan Street and an entry court off “C” Street into the leftover space, with a main entry approximately 108 feet from Main Street.
“The second option takes that 4,000 square feet of outdoor space and kind of cuts it in half,” Reynaud said. “One idea would be to create a setback off of Durgan Street to create a covered entry, kind of a porch that would run along the length of Durgan, so you’d have more of a narrow building. It also provides a much larger entry port that comes off of “C” Street. This would be a secondary entrance coming from the City Hall parking lot to the north and direct people into the central lobby. The plan is laid out similar to the first one where the children’s reading room would be to the north and the adult reading room would be to the south.”
The third design incorporates an entry court off Main Street and a separate staff entrance into the leftover site space, with a main entry approximately 89 feet from Main Street.
“This third idea has a similar concept with the entry port,” Reynaud said. “However, there’s a pretty generous setback from the mixed-use building to the east, so there would actually be an entry port coming off of Main Street that brings you into the lobby. There would also be a more narrow entry coming off of ‘C’ Street to the north. The community room in this scheme has the ability to open onto the courtyard space for outdoor public events that could flow in and out of the community room and into the courtyards.”
The fourth design incorporates a central courtyard and an entry court off of “C” Street into the leftover space, with a main entry approximately 110 feet from Main Street.
“The fourth option takes most of that 4,000 square feet of outdoor space and creates a large central courtyard directly across from the lobby as you enter,” Reynaud said. “This option also has a generous entry and entry court off of ‘C’ Street. Those two would be connected. There would be a courtyard as you enter from ‘C’ Street, which is also large enough to use for library events and everyday reading and program functions.”
“This is the only scheme that shows the children’s reading room having sort of a diagonal relationship to the adult reading room. One advantage of that is that the children’s reading room has lots of natural light onto that entry court coming from ‘C’ Street. It also has the ability to open onto the courtyard so there can be events that spill in and out of the two spaces.”
The architects will use the feedback in their efforts to finalize a conceptual rendering and develop a preliminary cost estimate, according to Washougal Community Library manager Rachael Ries.
FVRL has contributed about $3 million toward the project, and The Friends of the Washougal Library group and the FVRL Foundation have collected more than $360,000 through various fundraising events.
“With the current pricing of construction per square foot, we’re roughly estimating $7.5 million to build a 13,000-square-foot library, and we (have) just under $4 million, so we still have $3.5 to $4 million left to raise,” Ries told the Post-Record earlier this month. “The Friends of Washougal Community Library and the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation will continue actively seeking and campaigning for support for a new library in Washougal. Our hope is to find enough supporters and donors who want to invest in this project that construction can begin in early 2023.”
The Friends group and the FVRL Foundation will hold their next event, titled “A Novel Night,” on Aug. 6, at Get-To-Gather Farm in Washougal. The event is being planned as a “farm-to-table fundraising dinner experience,” according to a promotional flier.
For more information about the event or ways to get involved with fundraising efforts, visit wash ougallibraryfriends.org or fvrlfoundation.org.