New Downtown Vinton Library About to Break Ground

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Citizens review library plans at a meeting recently held at the Vinton War Memorial.
Citizens review library plans at a meeting recently held at the Vinton War Memorial.
Citizens review library plans at a meeting recently held at the Vinton War Memorial.

After a round of public meetings meant to decode exactly what Vinton and Roanoke County citizens want in a new Vinton library, HBM Architects of Cleveland and the town of Vinton unveiled their final design for the 20,000-square foot library recently. The information session came shortly after the new, 15,000 sq. ft. Glenvar Library opened its doors.

Assistant County Administrator Richard Caywood noted that while “lots of buildings in Vinton are traditional, the [design] feedback tended to be more positive on some of the more modern and contemporary aspects.” The design HBM architect James Shook presented seemed to bear this opinion out.

The new Vinton library, which will be located on the current site of Dunman Floral Supply in Vinton’s downtown core, has a modern look akin to the South County and Glenvar libraries that HBM designed for Roanoke County – a sleek blend of warm colors, metal accents, greenscapes and new amenities.

The building will be dark grey brick with a yellow composite metal accent that goes around the side and leads back around to the entrance, giving the structure a vivid “pop” of color. HBM seeks to integrate the library with the downtown Vinton surroundings. Its roof design will be curved along the front to line up with the sharp angle of the Vinton Municipal Building that sits across the street.

Large windows will look out over green spaces, with tables in the front and a green buffer behind the building that lines Jackson Avenue. A drive-in service will lay to the right of the front main entrance. Parking will be increased from 37 spaces at the current library to 76 spaces in lots and along the street at the new location. A wall with sizeable signage along Pollard Street will serve as a gateway into Vinton.

Inside, the main floor plaza area will open wide, allowing for easy access to audiovisual materials and the fiction section. Seating is incorporated throughout the area. Lockers for after-hours drop-off and pick-up similar to those at South County will be located to the right of the entrance. “The design is somewhat intuitive,” said Shook. “You’ll know where you want to go.”

A youth program room at the far left of the building, structured to contain noise, will be connected to the teen room and will be fitted with a gaming area complete, with projector and a staff desk. The children’s area at the front will look out through large windows onto a park area.

Responding to a demand for aid in tutoring, the library will have two study rooms and a small conference room that could contain larger tutoring groups or small organizational meetings. A “maker space” nearby on the ground floor will contain software for editing video and music.

Stairs will lead up to the mezzanine, which will open directly into a coffee shop, complete with cafe seating. Nearby, a conference room will seat up to 100 people but will also allow for dividing for smaller groups. A rooftop patio overlooking the front with sights of the surrounding mountains will have seating, a fireplace that connects from inside to outside and possibly a Jumbotron screen for outside movies. Next to the patio, a planted container garden will create a “living roof.”

Shook pointed out that the design in whole is meant to meld with the town’s nature. “What we’ve done is try to incorporate a design that the community can identify with and enjoy,” he said. The overall response at the meeting was positive in regards to this approach. In addition to approving of the design’s character, many in the audience were glad to see that a blind spot on Jackson Ave would be eliminated, with the design being pushed back 15 feet from the street. A few citizens asked if handicapped spaces along the parking lot sidewalk could be moved closer to the main entrance.

Roanoke County Libraries Director Diana Rosapepe responded to a question about book capacity, stating while there is room for expanding collections, adding accessibility to books rather than a huge influx of material is the goal. “We did the same thing at Glenvar and now books are circulating twice as much.” She also noted that the clear line of sight from the front desk through the rest of the library would make it safer for children.

Caywood said that while the county hasn’t advertised for contracting bids yet, they would start that in January and aim for a late winter or early spring construction start with possible groundbreaking in April 2014. The county hopes to have a fall 2015 opening. The process will start this September and October with the demolition of Dunman Floral Supply.

In regards to the project’s cost, Caywood took a conservative approach, saying that the bonds for the $9,000,000 project budget are in place – but as the economy has started to recover, construction prices have started to rise again. While rapid construction price inflation is a possibility, he is confident that there is enough money in the budget.

By Aaron Layman