The much anticipated Marmalade Branch of the city library system is due to break ground sometime in the fall of 2013 with completion planned by the end of 2014. Its location at the northeast corner of 500 North and 300 West is intended to reach out to the adjacent Marmalade, and nearby West Capitol, and Guadalupe neighborhoods.
The property on which the library will be located is the southern end of the “Marmalade Block”, as defined by Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA). The block is actually a four-acre property located along 300 West, between 500 and 600 North. Originally intended as a part of a mixed-use project flanking both sides of 300 West as envisioned by the RDA and Howa Construction, the company that held the option to develop the property for several years, the plans for the mostly residential part of the project on the east side of the street, fell apart in 2010 as the “Great Recession” tightened its hold on the economy. Howa Construction did complete the commercial/retail space on the west side of the street as originally planned, but the east side of the street, which was to consist mainly of residential property, has languished undeveloped for over a decade.
After Howa construction let their option on the “Marmalade Block” expire in 2010, the RDA took the opportunity to reassess their vision of the property and with the help of a consulting firm, Citiventure Associates, proposed that the east side of the street be developed within the block as a mixed use project, combining residential with commercial property, rather than the former, mainly residential idea. After settling on this strategy, the agency approached the City Library System with the idea of anchoring the project with a long wished-for neighborhood library, an idea the Library seized upon with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the RDA in March of 2012.
After a committee consisting of representatives from the Library’s administration, members of the RDA, and three representatives from the nearby neighborhoods, including our own CHNC St.Marks-Swedetown trustee, Nephi Kemmethmueller, settled on the architectural firm Blalock and Partners to design the new building, the Library held two well-attended community workshops in November 2012 and January 2013 (in addition to the two meetings held by the RDA to discuss the whole Marmalade Block project) specifically looking for neighborhood input with regard to the anticipated use of the new library with an eye toward developing the final concept, design, and materials.
Using this information and the new “Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial Properties & Districts in Salt Lake City”, which was amended and formally adopted by the city in the fall of 2012, the designers have arrived at a forward-looking design that reflects the transition from the industrial/commercial feel of the 300 West area to the residential feel of the “Marmalade” district to the east. It is designed to hold its own with and anchor the remaining mixed-use buildings which will eventually comprise the balance of “Marmalade Block”.
The main floor of the building holds the children’s and young adults’ areas of the library along with considerable space reserved for public computers in the center, and space for a public cafe in the northwest corner. The second floor holds the Adult Collection and a large, community multi-purpose room, and a proposed small roof terrace with outdoor seating designed to overlook the plaza and the green space situated just behind the library.
While there have been various reactions to the design of the building, some negative, but most positive, it is clear that the designers have put a great effort into making the building work inside and out and within the context of the “Marmalade Block” and helps its transition into the neighborhood. The four-million-dollar, three-story building has been thoughtfully designed with consideration for the use of its inside space as well as its impact visually on the neighborhood with its modern exterior.
For more information, the latest updates, including more renderings along with proposed floor plans and a copy of the “Design Guidelines”, please take a moment and visit the website/blog set up for the new library at: http://marmaladelibraryslc.wordpress.com/. As always, anyone can and is welcome to leave their comments on the proposed new library on either site.