Architects chosen by the Brookfield Public Library board to design a substantial addition to the existing building will reach out to village officials and take the municipal temperature regarding a plan library trustees would like to pursue.

At a special meeting on April 18, a clear majority of library trustees voiced support for one of six plans presented by Tiffany Nash and Dan Pohrte, principals at Product Architecture and Design, the firm chosen in February to lead the design effort.

The preferred design calls for the construction of a 9,600-square-foot, two-floor addition that would expand the library to the north and require the closure of Lincoln Avenue.

A substantial area of green space would surround the addition to the north and west sides, with a parking lot built on land purchased by the library board in 2012 at 3541 Park Ave., across Lincoln Avenue from the existing library.

The estimated cost of such a plan is about $8.1 million. Architects presented plans that ranged in cost from $6 million (4,600 square feet) to roughly $8.4 million (11,400 square feet).

Both library trustees and staff agreed, for the most part, that the 9,600-square-foot plan provided the most space and best value for the money. Three of the plans, including the least expensive and two most expensive designs, would not require closure of Lincoln Avenue.

The design scheme presented by the architects showed an addition that extends the main floor and creates a lower-level space large enough to accommodate multiple study rooms and a meeting room capable of holding 100 people and also capable of being divided in two. 

The lower level, according to the design presented on April 18, also would house rooms for the creation of hands-on projects, like 3-D printing and a café/vending area.

While they preferred the design of the 9,600-square-foot option, library trustees directed architects to provide them with cost estimates for similar designs that would result in an addition with two floors above ground, one with an unfinished lower level and one without a basement at all.

JoAnn Day, president of a new foundation created to mount a capital campaign to help pay for the addition and renovation of the library, said building an addition without a lower level would be a mistake.

If the library decides it needs to expand further in the future, skipping the basement now could be a costly proposition. Any one-story addition would be built to support a second story in the future, the architects said.

“You don’t want to get rid of a basement to take away your future,” Day said. “To sell it, you’ve got to be able to say we can expand.”

The cost to build an unfinished basement and two floors above it may turn out to be cost prohibitive. Pohrte estimated that such a solution might be pushing the $10 million range.

The library board has saved about $5.2 million to date in a special fund. The library board has hired a financial advisor to help determine how to finance the rest of the cost. While no decisions on how that may play out have been decided yet, financing won’t involve another referendum, said Library Director Kimberly Coughran.

Any money raised through a capital campaign by the foundation would supplement the funds available for the construction.

Whatever the final solution, the new addition will allow for adult and children’s areas of the library to be separated from one another on the main floor. The existing library’s main floor would also be completely renovated.

“It’s the number one complaint we get,” said Coughran, referring to the noise and interruptions that result from the close proximity of children and adults in the existing 13,500-square-foot library.

“The goal is to fit all of the features that are necessary for the community while having the space to create [areas] that allow adults and teens to study quietly and allows children to be children,” Coughran said.

Library officials and their architects are scheduled to meet with village officials  regarding the preferred plan on April 30, Coughran said.

Below are the varilous designs and cost estimates for all of the options considered by the board. (Scroll to see more)