Eleven months since construction started on the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library residents have a pretty good picture of how the building sits on its site at the northeast corner of Park and Lincoln avenues.
Most of the windows enclosing the ground-floor spaces are in, while the copper-colored metal cladding is partially in place, giving a sense of texture and shimmering in the afternoon sunlight.
According to Dan Eallonardo, owner’s rep for the library’s board of trustees, construction is 60- to 70-percent complete and the plan is still for the new facility to open to the public this summer.
“A lot of finishes are going on now,” said Eallonardo during a tour of the construction site for about two dozen people, including library and village officials as well as the Landmark.
“Many surfaces are painted, others are prepared for paint, ceilings are being installed, most of the mechanical systems are pretty well far along and the building is being finished from the bottom up, so the most complete floor is the basement, then the main level and the second level,” Eallonardo said.
Library Director Kimberly Coughran said she hoped for a soft opening in June with a more formal grand opening at the end of that month. Once the building is operational, work will begin to demolish the existing library across the street at 3609 Grand Blvd. and construction a parking lot and small park on that site.
“It’s going great,” said Dan Pohrte, principal with Product Architecture and Design, the firm the library board hired to design the 21,000-square-foot building. “Construction has been pretty seamless.”
While those driving and walking past the new library have a sense of the building’s scale, what comes across most noticeably inside the building, even during the morning hours when the front of the building is shaded, is the light.
Expanses of glass along the south and west walls flood the interior with light, including the main stairwell in the southeast corner of the building where large windows let in sunlight that also filters through perforated stair risers and brightens the interior through a wall of glass separating the lobby from the stairwell.
Glass walls throughout the building open up those spaces and allow light to penetrate, including the basement, where light filters in through the stairwell and through a light well along the north wall that provides natural light to staff offices and a staff break room in that part of the building where windows are otherwise scarce.
The seven staff offices are glass-walled to allow in as much light as possible, and there’s also a large open area for staff without private offices to work when they are not at their desks in the library proper.
Right now those full- and part-time staff members – about five in all – share a cramped roughly 8-by-6-foot office where two people can work by facing one another, just inches apart.
“In a pandemic, that situation has been impossible,” Coughran said.
The lower level also includes a large meeting room for library programming and public meetings. The room will be able to be divided into two separate spaces and a storage room will be able to hold all of the room’s chairs and tables if the space needs to be cleared out for a particular program.
The room will be equipped with a video monitor, projector, projection screen and sound system.
Project architect Jim Lonergan led the tour group through the building, from bottom to top. While the spaces remain unfinished, particularly on the ground and second floors, Lonergan provided visual aids to demonstrate how colorful the interior spaces will be when finished and provide samples of the materials, such as carpeting in the main areas of the three floors, hard-surface flooring in the second-floor teen room and maker space, paint and furniture colors and fabrics.
The palette for the ground-floor spaces, which focus on younger patrons, is brighter with shades of green and blue predominating. The second-floor colors, in the adult-centric areas, are more muted blues and grays.
A walk through the building also reinforces one of the project’s goals of limiting noise and separating spaces set aside for children, teens and adults.
The Youth Services Department will be located on the ground floor and has direct access to the large outdoor area to the west, which itself will be bordered by shrubs to give it a sense of enclosure.
The second floor includes a teen room and adjacent maker space, which will be enclosed by glass walls and allow patrons to access each of those rooms from inside the space. The maker space will also have a separate editing room, which will be nearly soundproof, Lonergan said, where patrons can edit video and audio.
Along the west wall of the second floor will be a mix of booth and other seating, with a quiet study area – complete with a gas fireplace (remote controlled by staff) – in the northwest corner. Five quiet study rooms, whose glass doors can be closed to make them even quieter, each with a monitor with an interface for laptops.
The second floor, in particular, is a bright space – and will be more so during afternoons when the sun is shining on the west façade.