Community Library Committee Report

B. Design

Outline for Guidelines on Architecture

Good design is not achieved through a democratic process. It is achieved through a creative process. It is a process that takes into account many factors, including the context of the project, and then makes a statement of its own. It relies on the talent of the professionals to use their best judgment and on the understanding, through rational supportable dialogue with the public, of the reasoning leading to and vision of the design. Furthermore public buildings represent who we are and have an obligation to be distinctive and public in character.

Having said that, buildings that are funded through a referendum in particular must be designed through a process that engages the voters. During this period of engagement, several things must be communicated effectively: the need for the project, the vision of the solution to meet that need, and the cost effectiveness of the solution [that is, the impact on the taxpayer to realize the vision].

The architects have the responsibility of leading the design team through this process [with the support and concurrence of the JJML Board]. Design is an educational process. The public will educate the design team about its needs and hopes. The professional staff will bring to the process the realistic requirements for the library programs and functions. The architects will educate the staff and the public about the ways that the needs can be met and provide a vision for a building that will accommodate those needs in ways that may not be apparent today. Finding consensus on the design may not be easy, but the building must transcend current popular opinion and stand on its own for years to come as an example of flexibility, good sense and leadership.

To accomplish this, frequent meetings of the Design Team with the JJML Board, which are open to the public, should be held as the design evolves. This begins with a discussion of the site plans. The meetings should lead the JJML Board and the public through the process of planning and designing the buildings. Narrowly focusing discussions to explore elements of the process and engaging the public in the details that are important to the decision making, consensus for the design will be built. The Design Team must begin the process without preconceived ideas or solutions. Solutions will become apparent as a result of working through the process. Elaborate presentations involving expensive models or renderings should not be made until such time as consensus has been reached, if at all. Making such presentations where the public has not been brought along through the process only serves to feed the suspicion that decisions were made behind closed doors out of the public arena and that some secret agenda is being pursued. Furthermore, presentations such as this generally raise more questions than they answer.

When critical junctures are reached, such as sign off on the schematic design or the program, every effort to get the public to attend and be aware of the importance of participation should be made.

Education and leadership on the part of the Design Team is critical to the success of the project and therefore the design.

To be specific when adding on to the current building it is recommended that the Design Team follow the recommendations of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Heritage Protection Service publishes this guide.

With regard to a new building, the CLC urges the Design Team to heed the following taken from the above referenced Guidelines as if it referred to new buildings in historic districts. “New design should always be clearly differentiated so that [it] …does not appear to be part of the historic resource.” Also note: “Imitating a historic style or period of architecture…” is not recommended.

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