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The 42,000-square-foot Boca Raton Library will cost about $8 million to build.
It will be situated two blocks north of the current library. Rendering provided


 

 

By Margie Plunkett

 

Designers of Boca Raton’s new downtown library are going green. 

In fact, they’re seeking silver LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification for the light-filled and spacious downtown library, whose “Mizneresque” façade was unveiled in June. 

 A silver rating is the third highest rating of four levels in the LEED green building certification system.

Architect PGAL, which is designing the new $8.8 million library, presented the exterior of the building during a public meeting June 21. The plans for the interior were also modified to reflect larger public meeting space and more room for the used-book store made possible by a $250,000 gift from the Friends of the Library. The library is planned for the former Causeway Lumber site, two blocks from the old facility.

The exterior uses elements from the city’s master plan that represent both urban and suburban and also includes towering, asymmetric features and a roof that appears to be sloped. “It has a lot of elements of the pattern book,” said Assistant City Manager Mike Woika, calling the design “Mizneresque.”

The building is a very tall, one-story space that takes advantage of glass and natural lighting, PGAL’s Ian Nestler said. The designer is looking to incorporate sustainable practices including solar-heated water, low-flush toilets, sensors on faucets, high-impact windows and high efficiency lighting and mechanical systems. The building also uses a reclaimed water system for irrigation.

“It’s going to be quite a magnificent space,” Nestler said.

But the new library won’t use solar options for all its energy needs. 

“Our energy is less expensive, it doesn’t pay right now,” Nestler said. “It’s a 17-year-plus payback. We like to recommend those when you have a five-years-or-less payback.”

To install such a system, the city would have to come up with more money now, “which means the library would have to suffer somewhere,” he said.

The exterior includes two book drops, one that allows borrowers to park their car under cover of the entrance and another drive-up location.

Betty Grinnan of the Friends of the Library said that she was happy with how the group’s gift was incorporated into the floor plan. “My only concern is, because of budgetary problems, (the city) will not be forward enough thinking in lighting and windows.”

The designers will look at elements at the old library that they might want to incorporate into the new building. 

One resident at the public meeting asked whether stained glass windows would be moved to the new building. Nestler said the designer would consider them.

 The project is on budget and schedule as well as on track for LEEDs certification, Nestler said.                       Ú

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