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October 27, 2017 8:41 pm

Library Entrance Plan Will be Part of Budget Talks

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 @ 6:00 AM


Rendering of plan for  entrance – image courtesy City of Prince George

Prince George, B.C. – The Prince George Public Library Bob Harkins Branch has had issues with its entrance since it was first  built in 1981.

There have been  numerous  efforts to  correct  the  failings,  which  include  safety  issues  with an entrance that opens directly into the path of  parking lot traffic and outside stairs that are often closed during the winter

The library is visited by more than 290 thousand people each year, and with that amount of  traffic,  a safe, accessible  entrance is key.

Originally, the plan for a new  entrance  was  estimated to cost  nearly $4 million dollars.  Last summer,  a workshop was  held in the City with support and user groups, and a new  plan was developed.  This one  carries a price tag of  just under $2.5 million.

For an  extra $150 thousand dollars,  a plan could be developed that would have a two storey  entrance  ( see image  at rightscreenshot_20161017-2113111)

But at this point, the  project is on the “unfunded” list of capital projects.

Councillors support  a new  entrance   and  as Councillor Terri McConnachie noted,  this is  a City owned asset   and it is not  a ‘library project”  and it has a  lot of “buy in” from  a lot of people.

The capital  plan will be  part of the budget deliberations,  and Councillor Garth Frizzell wants to know if there are some other  capital expenditures for the library such as new flooring,  that could be removed  in favour of this  project.

The City has applied for funding under the Canada 150  funding  but is awaiting  word on whether or not  that application has been approved.

Mayor Hall says the capital plan  discussions  are the appropriate time  to  discuss this project “I look forward to the conversation during budget. It’s been on the (capital) list, off the list, and I think we are in a much better  position, and I  think it’s going to be a lot of  good discussion  at budget time.”



Was this not first proposed by Allan Wilson when he was the head librarian there some years back?

Seems like a heck of a lot of money for an entrance.

“The capital plan will be part of the budget deliberations, and Councillor Garth Frizzell wants to know if there are some other capital expenditures for the library such as new flooring, that could be removed in favour of this project.”

Just wondering, did the ice users give up anything when the City forked over 15 million for Kin 1? How about the Cougars? What did they give up for their fancy new half million dollar clock? Mashich Place? Did they forego anything?

Please finally pass this budget proposal! This is one of our most important city assets.

AS a former employee at the Library–Most folks park underground; this was not what the original planning thought would happen.
I will NEVER forget the flooded ungerground parking and elevator shaft that happened one summer! This new entrance needs to happen.

Underground! spellcheck where were you?

If another 150,000 gets a second floor why does just the bottom cost 2.5 million? I must be missing something. Either way a nice entrance is needed but this is just a couple of ugly squares. I could design something nicer for free with my box of pencil crayons :)

    I agree that this is a bunch of “ugly” cubes which destroys the entire appearance of the library from the plaza. There are many other examples from the world which shows better solutions to a similar problem.

    Here is a modern addition to a 1440AD building. Basic principles, do not overpower the original building.

    The addition of a roof helicopter pad to an existing emergency entrance of the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa. (something they could do at our hospital as well). The elevator shaft was built so that the patient could be moved directly from the heliport to the existing entrance level.

    A glazed entrance from the underground parkade to the stairs and elevators going to the seashore protective dunes at Katwijk aan Zee, Netherlands.

    Even a repeat of the rotunda to the left of the Library would be better than what is shown here which adds just another totally different and clunky design.

    What they man by a two storey entrance is a lobby which is open to two storeys, such as the one at Plaza 400 entrance to the provincial offices.

    The roof cost does not change; the angled glazed “skylight” over the stairway is removed and the second level full glass enclosure is added.

    The other addition would be that a larger volume of air has to be heated. There is little solar gain on the north face of the building, especially during the winter, so additional heating capacity has to be added which also increases the ongoing heating costs.

    There is already a true second storey component to the base entrance addition. Actually more like 2.5 storeys since there is the addition of accessing the parking level from the proposed entrance addition. That means additional stairs, additional half storey stop for the elevator, as well as 2 sets of entrance doors from two different levels.

This was a part of a letter to the editor dated May 11, 1981, shortly after the opening of the library. It is very predictive

A professional looks at library

Finally, after much bickering and a competition, the doors are open.

Unfortunately, the library is very much in a backwash area, being stuck out on its own, so far removed from other activities it is unlikely that anyone will journey to the library on foot and certainly not as part of a dispersed family activity with different members going to different activities, other than being shuttled around.

It is an unfortunate by-product of the competition system, that little emphasis was placed by the assessors on the reality of siting, an element of the total montage which may have to stand on its own for up to a decade.

The building also tends to turn its back on many of the attributes of the site. It is next to nothing. It takes little advantage of orientation. Not even the staff reap the enjoyment of an outlook sheltered on the south. It has vast, cold, elevated patio space, unrelated functionally to the internal activities and being practically attractive to none other than skate-boarders and cyclists.

The parking underneath has been treated as a cold, forbidding area, subject to flood and freezing, and will prove to be a maintenance nightmare.

There has been no attempt to soften the quality of light or the surfaces of an area which is supposed to be the primary entrance to at least one minority group and, due to remoteness and the exigencies of our climate, will tend to be the major entrance to many coming by car.

The proportions of the building standing so far removed from other buildings, are extravagant to say the least. Though the building floor area is a fractional part of the City Hall, the mass of the building equals the entire City Hall. The monumental heights attained internally, though dramatic and reminiscent of small town cathedrals, are achieved at great cost and stand in contrast to the tight budgetary control exercised on other public buildings, such as city halls, fire halls, schools, colleges and hospitals. If ever there was a monument to an alter ego demonstrating extravagance, it was this one.

The building also suffers from serious inattention to the details of the rigors of this climate. The mechanical service spaces are all but inaccessible and then only at considerable hazard. Some of the mechanical services will be subject to serious tests due to inattention to local climate conditions. In an age of energy consciousness, some serious compromises have had to be made to bring the extravagant concept down to the realities of municipal funding.

Those of us who vigorously promoted the library, supported it during its controversy, and watched with interest as it grew, do feel very satisfied that it has actually come about. It is still appropriate, however, to be honestly critical in the hope that subsequent cultural and recreation facilities, or for that matter dominant commercial facilities, can be honestly assessed with a more open mind and more thoroughness to the details which affect ongoing utility, enjoyment and operating costs to local taxpayers.

I, for one, hope that every time a worthwhile project is proposed, it does not become the subject of heated controversy and does not have to accept extravagances and inattention to appropriate detail and the full range of options in order to ensure that “something gets done.”

Desmond Parker Architect-Town Planner


I understand the original entrance was removed from the final construction drawings as a result of a cost cutting which took place to get the price under $4 million. They then built the earth fill ramp in front with sloped, paved walkways.

Then they built the rotunda to link the civic centre and the library providing elevator access to both buildings. Nobody seems to use that, likely because there is no handicapped parking at the plaza entrance. In fact, there is poor handicapped parking access even to the Civic Centre on the north side.

There have been several suggestions of how to improve the “safety” of the entrance from the library parking level.

What I have not seen is a solution which can be seen at large retail outlets, malls as well as large hotels and airport parkades: an enlarged, well-lit, glassed elevator lobby which provides full visibility both into the lobby and out from the lobby. It means that the parking layout has to be reconfigured. We can see that they have managed to do that with the new joint entrance with the hotel construction site.

I know it will need a quality designer to do that. Without adding a second elevator, something like that should be able to be accomplished for less than $1million.

Put your thinking caps on City Council and Administration as well as Library Board. Enough money has been wasted on failed attempts to solve a problem inherited from the original Architect and the City Council of the day who were in charge of ensuring the City got a building without all the flaws at a cost to building an otherwise stunning interior space reminiscent of the grand spaces of libraries of old..

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