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Revised Snoqualmie library plans draw praise

The revised plans for a new library on Snoqualmie Ridge drew praise from the two dozen people who gathered Aug. 22 to review them.

"The design is superior to the first effort and I think it will fit into the community better," said Snoqualmie resident Gene Pollard.

The King County Library System held three community meetings in June to address the design of new Snoqualmie, Fall City and Carnation libraries - three of five libraries in the system's plans for library expansions.

Bill Ptacek, library system director, said plans for the Snoqualmie library were far ahead those of other communities.

Project manager Rick Whitworth of BNBuilders Inc. in Seattle said he plans to begin construction on the Snoqualmie library in November, with construction to be completed in June 2007 - though completion could be delayed several months.

"It's kind of a funny time to start construction," he said. Weather and an ongoing strike affecting area quarries could affect the construction timetable, he said.

The plan for Snoqualmie calls for a new 6,000-square-foot library on the northwest corner of the Center Boulevard and Snoqualmie Parkway intersection. The existing 2,100-square-foot library, located at 38580 S.E. River St., was built in 1978.

The latest design for the new building incorporates suggestions made in June. The designers shifted the staff offices on the north side of the building to the west, allowing a view of Mount Si to be opened up to library patrons.

They also made the roof line less dramatic and created larger overhangs to be more energy efficient.

"It's certainly not as dynamic and exciting for that corner," said Sian Roberts of the Seattle architectural firm Miller-Hull Partnership. However, the more subdued design, which incorporates the required Snoqualmie Ridge materials and color scheme, should stand out in its own right with a pleasant presence, she said.

The large windows will serve to entice passers-by with the books and activity within, she said. In response to audience comments that the interior needs to be attractive because of all the glass, Roberts said the planners will design interior components to be warm and inviting and aesthetically pleasing.

The proposed outdoor "pocket park" by the main entrance on Center Boulevard was made smaller and more enclosed by the shift of the office. However, it will still serve as an outdoor reading area; a larger area for natural landscaping was opened up on the building's northeast side, near the parking lot.

The two park-like areas would be the locations for future library expansion once money is made available to grow the library to 10,000 square feet.

Though exterior plans are nearly finished, interior layout has not been completed yet. Designers said they are still trying to puzzle together all the pieces.

In general, they said they are trying for an open design with the taller shelves by the Center Street windows so they don't obstruct the mountain view from inside.

A central staff station would be placed so it's visible from the main doors and the parking lot entrance. Self-service checkouts would be placed near the main entrance and a bar for laptop access and study likely would be included, as well.

A multipurpose meeting room on the east side will have a folding wall so it can be used by patrons as a reading area when not reserved for group use.

The only thing missing was the fireplace planned in earlier versions.

The fireplace went away during the interior layout because it was becoming difficult to place in the new design, said Ruth Coates, project architect. However, planners said it was still a possibility if they could fit it in without compromising other library features.

Several of those attending the meeting said the fireplace was worth keeping and suggested places to place one; they urged designers to keep it in the plan.

"I think [a fireplace] is very nice, but it takes a lot of space from a small library," said Loretta Herman, former Snoqualmie librarian.

She suggested holding off on the fireplace until the library could be expanded to 10,000 square feet.

Tracy Neether, a member of the Snoqualmie Library Board, praised the revisions made by the designers.

"I think it's great," she said. "They really listened to all the community input."

The new Snoqualmie library will be paid for by a countywide $143 million bond passed in 2004 to fund expansions and improvements in all 43 system libraries, also including new branches in Fall City and Carnation.

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