City News: April 2008 Archives

Library-museum task force convenes

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Shared-space proposal
Pfeiffer Partners

Central Library
1967 RNB calendar

Central Library

U.S. Post Office

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

This past week saw the first meeting of the city's newly-formed "blue ribbon" task force for the combined downtown library-museum expansion project, which stalled in recent months following public comments questioning the viability of joint-use expansion.

Members of the committee, comprised of seasoned Riverside civic leaders, have been given the task of formulating a plan, namely whether the project should encompass a shared-space expansion as originally proposed or separate expansions. Although there are benefits of a combined expansion -- shared overall costs, efficient use of flexible space and even natural synergies -- the plan, as first proposed, fails to provide enough independent space for each entity.

As it stands now, the city's main branch library -- aka, the "Central Library" -- is housed within a 61,000 sq. ft. building that opened in 1964/65. According to a study by a citizen's group, Riverside's current main library ranks 19th in space per capita (.21) when compared against 24 other Southern California cities with populations between 100,000 and 500,000. The study concluded the city's main library would need to double in size just to reach the per capita median (.42) -- a figure the combined library-museum expansion of 30,000 sq. ft. would clearly fail to meet.

Across from the main library sits the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. Located within a building originally constructed in 1912 by the U.S. Postal Service, the museum initially occupied the basement beginning in 1948 (with the city's police department taking up the remainder). Full occupancy by the museum came in 1965 upon completion of a new police headquarters nearby. Museum officials say the current building lacks the space and amenities needed for hosting major exhibits. They also cite the need for more storage space. Thus, the reasons for expansion.

Finally, regardless of the final outcome -- whether joint or independent expansion -- our hope is that neither building's exterior gets extensively altered, particularly the library's striking mid-century modern architecture. Though ridiculed for most of its 44-year existence, the building's exterior is in fact an excellent example of the New Formalism style of architecture (a style beginning to receive its due props elsewhere). Of course, we've gone on record before stating our admiration for the building's style. And it appears others are beginning to appreciate it as well (one, two, three).

Upcoming meetings for the blue ribbon committee are scheduled for City Hall on April 23, May 19, and June 6 and 7.




Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside

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This page is a archive of entries in the City News category from April 2008.

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City News: May 2008 is the next archive.

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