PUEBLO, Colo. — Renovations to the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library are set to begin Monday, Aug. 16. The $12.5 million project will involve significant interior work to the four floors including refreshing furniture, flooring and fixtures; replacement of the building’s HVAC systems and equipment, and creation of an outdoor event space and mobility plaza. The Rawlings Library will remain open during renovations.
Originally constructed in 2003 upon the site of the original McClelland Library, the 110,000 square-foot main library located at 100 E. Abriendo Ave., has hosted more than 8 million visitors since opening its doors and more than 14 million books and other materials have been checked out.
“The Rawlings Library is a key amenity in Pueblo, and I am pleased that after nearly two decades of heavy public use, we are revitalizing this library so it remains a key community asset for many years to come,” Jon Walker, PCCLD Executive Director.
Partnering in the renovation design are two firms, Denver-based Anderson Mason Dale (AMD) Architects and HBM Architects of Cleveland, Ohio. The Rawlings Library was originally designed by internationally renowned architect Antoine Predock with AMD serving as the primary firm overseeing the project. Pueblo’s own H. W. Houston Construction is charged with managing construction.
“AMD is thrilled to be working on the Rawlings Library once again, having been part of the team with Antoine Predock to transform the old McClelland Library at Mesa Junction. This renovation, based on extensive community input, will breathe new life into the landmark library. Working alongside HBM Architects and Interior Designers, a firm that brings national expertise to the task of reshaping the central library, we will be adding new spaces and updating the organization and finishes of the library to serve the evolving needs of the Pueblo community,” said Andy Nielson of AMD Architects.
Peter J. Bolek, president of HBM Architects added, “The Rawlings Library, originally created by Antoine Predock and AMD, is a treasured and important piece of architecture in Pueblo. The relationship between HBM and AMD allows our team to provide a progressive, future-focused library design for the Pueblo community rooted in HBM’s decades of experience working with libraries combined with AMD’s direct intimate knowledge of the original design and creative vision.”
Major changes to the library will occur. The outdoor site plan calls for a major redesign, including a mobility plaza for better access to the main entrance. The site also will feature a terraced outdoor amphitheatre. The first floor of the library will include a new barista-served café, a large maker space, a computer training facility, and other public meeting rooms. The second floor of the library transforms into a hub for all age groups providing traditional library services such as books, movies, public-use computers as well as study and collaboration spaces. The floor will spotlight designated spaces for children, teens and adults. The new children’s area, in particular, will be a highlight with a vibrant new, safe, imaginative, and playful place for kids and families to read and learn. The third floor will expand the library’s acclaimed local history and archives including a bigger Hispanic Resource Center, and the fourth floor will feature a grand event space and catering kitchen with advanced theater accoutrements and the flexibility to subdivide into more intimate spaces utilizing a portable partitioning system.
“Our most important objective was to create a facility that would provide a place for everyone with access to collaborative learning and social enjoyment, materials and programs, and a facility that is inspiring, aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable. This flexible and adaptable space will continue to expand and enhance library services in the region,” continued Bolek.
Primary funding for the project, totalling $7.5 million, came from Certificates of Participation bonds. An additional $2.5 million is from library funds. Private donations and a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant round out money for the project.
Planning for the renovation began in 2018 with a series of public meetings and moved through various stages until final construction plans and bidding were completed earlier this year. Construction is being managed by Pueblo-based H. W. Houston Construction. “This iconic building will begin interior renovations, as well as the construction of a new outdoor amphitheater, starting Aug. 16. This refresh will repurpose areas of the vibrant library to meet the demands of the public, so it can host another 8 million visitors in the near future! Construction is scheduled for 12 months,” stated Scott Robb, general manager, H.W. Houston Construction. H. W. Houston representatives note that many of the jobs for this project will come from local subcontractors. Construction is scheduled to occur according to the following calendar:
· Phase 1: Site work and First floor to take place during the Summer/Fall 2021
· Phase 2: Second floor, to take place during the Winter/Spring 2022
· Phase 3: Third floor, Spring 2022
· Phase 4: Fourth floor, Summer 2022
“I am looking forward with excitement as we begin this new chapter in the life of the Rawlings library. As we look to the future of PCCLD, this update and refresh will keep Rawlings on the cutting edge of library services and continue to be forward thinking as we work to exceed the expectations of our community,” Fredrick Quintana, president, PCCLD Board of Trustees