Task force favors separate library, museum expansions

Task force favors separate library, museum expansions

A City Council-appointed task force assigned with revising Riverside’s library-museum expansion plans issued its draft recommendation this week calling for separate expansions for both institutions. The recommendation, which would reverse the city’s earlier combined expansion proposal, comes after several recent public meetings on the issue.

2006 - Central Library

2006 – Central Library

Most critics of the original $25 million proposal — part of the city’s Riverside Renaissance Initiative — feared joint expansion would shortchange both entities. That plan called for an approximately 35,000 sq. ft. expansion: 9,500 sq. ft. children’s section, 10,500 sq. ft. community/office space (with 250-seat auditorium) and up to 15,000 sq. ft. exhibition/flex space. Drawn up by Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Inc., the plan expanded outward in front of the current library, including displacement of the Chinese Memorial Pavilion.

2006 - Riverside Metropolitan Museum

2006 – Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Since then, several community members, residents and various civic groups have voiced opinions on the matter. The “Committee to Renew the Library” and “The Raincross Group” have both considered plans of their own, the latter recommending a 60,000 sq. ft. library expansion (basement plus two stories) in front of the current library (sparing the Chinese Pavilion); and, a 30,000 sq. ft. museum expansion (3 stories) behind the current museum. Estimates for both expansions are $38 million — approximately $13 million more than the original joint-expansion project.

The task force’s draft recommendation of separate expansions now moves ahead for a public hearing scheduled for June 18, after which a final task force meeting on June 25 will address any changes before forwarding the panel’s final recommendation to the City Council (scheduled for August 12).

2007 - Museum exhibit

2007 – Museum exhibit

Whatever the final outcome, we agree both institutions should remain downtown at their current locations. Likewise, we’d prefer to see neither building’s architecture severely compromised with any future expansions. Though many may say the current architecture of the library does not fit its immediate surroundings, we believe it has its own architectural merits (one | two | three) on which to stand, and thus, should not be significantly altered.

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Sources: The Press-Enterprise

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