The journey of designing a new Winter Park Public Library has officially begun — and it started with residents’ ideas.
Winter Park residents had a chance to meet the man who will design the city’s new library/event center, when architect Sir David Adjaye hosted a meeting on June 20 at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center.
The community also had a chance to give its input on several different aspects of the new facility, including building amenities, technology, park features, the library itself and the event center.
Large sheets of paper catalogued desired features and ideas — everything from a “homework center,” “interactive fountains” and a “reference to Martin Luther King Jr.” to having “cool furniture to nap in,” an “aerial yoga space hanging from hooks” and a “rooftop garden.”
Adjaye said public input is critical to the design process.
“It’s important that the residents feel like they’re being listened to,” Adjaye said. “This is not tokenism; this is real. Those notes are going to be collected, and we’re going to digest them. We want to really use them as part of our programming document.
“The inspiration for projects doesn’t come from the kind of document that’s formally given to you. It comes from the conversation,” he said. “I need this. Otherwise, the juices don’t flow. I need to be engaged.”
The famed architect has designed libraries, museums and learning facilities throughout his career, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the Idea Store in London, the Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C. the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Folkstone Library in Kent, England.
Adjaye’s work can be spotted in cities across the globe. The architect recently was knighted by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and was named in TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.”
Adjaye Associates will be working alongside HuntonBrady Architects, with Adjaye’s firm taking the lead on the design.
“This is where we identify the pieces of the puzzle,” HuntonBrady Architects Vice President Maurizio Maso said. “We’re not solving the puzzle yet. We’re trying to find out all the needs, the adjacencies and the possibilities of joint use. After that, Sir Adjaye and his associates will commence the design.”
Ideas already are pouring in for Adjaye, who said he’s drawn to the weather and the city’s history as possible design points.
“It’s super early, but I’m loving the lushness of the geography,” Adjaye said. “I love the peripatetic nature of the weather. It kind of slightly reminds me of London, even though its much much hotter and more humid. It has the same personality.
“I love discovering the many layers of history,” he said. “There’s tough history and good history here, and I want to look at it. … I want to look at the whole thing, and I want to digest it and feel really embedded with it. Then, I’ll start sketching.”
Adjaye said his team will take the input from residents and return in September to present a proposal to the Winter Park City Commission. They’ll host various stakeholder meetings as well.
The overall design phase will take a year, followed by another 18 months for construction, he said.
The architect described what he wants residents to feel when they step inside this new building.
“I want them to feel edified, to feel empowered,” Adjaye said. “I want them to feel a sense of democratized plane, that this is not just for anyone, but for everyone. I want them to feel ennobled as citizens, to be proud citizens. That’s what a good public building can do.”
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