The renovation of Heights Libraries’ University Heights branch is complete, and the building opened to the public on Thursday, October 12, 2017. The $5.6 million project came in on schedule and on budget.
A grand re-opening celebration is scheduled for Sunday, November 12. A short program at 2 p.m. will consist of welcoming remarks from both city and library leaders, entertainment from the Heights High Barbershoppers choral group, and complimentary refreshments from community neighbor Whole Foods. Community members are invited to tour the new space.
The branch has been closed to the public since September 6, 2016, but has been a whirlwind of activity for the past year as the 60-year-old building underwent an extensive renovation. The size of the building has nearly doubled, from roughly 11,000 square feet to 18,200 square feet across two floors, which provides space for rest rooms on both floors, a full elevator, staff offices and work rooms, study rooms, and four meeting rooms. Outside, there is a new door in the back of the building directly off the parking lot, with a sheltered sidewalk, that makes getting in and out of the building safe, comfortable, and more convenient, especially for mobility-challenged customers, who will also have more parking spots.
In addition, the building will have completely separate areas for adults, teens, and children, with the teen and children’s areas in the basement and the adult collections on the first floor.
“We are particularly proud of our new children’s area,” says Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “We chose geography as our design theme, and the room’s decorative elements reflect that, with murals of scenes from all corners of the world, constellations on the ceiling, numerous globes donated by customers and staff, and a map of University Heights in our new storytime room. We hope it will give our kids a sense of their place in the world and encourage them to learn about other places and the people who live there.”
Those design elements “represent a lot of library love,” says University Heights Branch Manager Sara Phillips, who points out that local artist Jamey Christoph designed the children’s murals as a gift to the library. “Jamey is an award-winning, nationally known artist, but he’s also a Heights resident and a great friend to the library,” says Phillips.
In addition to the wall murals, the ceiling design of constellations, overlaid with a larger-than-life, 3-D resin compass was also designed locally, by students in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s spring 2017 Interior Architecture junior class, under the guidance of instructor Rick Parker. The funding for the ceiling was raised by the FRIENDS of Heights Libraries, a volunteer organization whose fundraising efforts help the library pay for programming and special items like the library’s Book Bike and the new ceiling.
“Thanks to the CIA students and the FRIENDS, children can look up and be transported to the stars,” says Levin.
The Library worked closely on the project with architecture firm CBLH Design and construction manager Regency Construction Services.