Saturday, May 19, 2007

turning grocery stores into centers of knowledge

The adaptive reuse of buildings is a way for the cities in Northeast Ohio to maintain competitive and sustainable neighborhoods. But how should it be done?

We can see this debate in Cleveland, where the community is struggling to figure out what to do with the Breuer building.

In Youngstown we have these same struggles with empty buildings, but handful of recent projects is illustrating that this city is pushing forward with new life for old structures.

An exciting project was announced this week by the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. It's the $4.6 million renovation of a long abandoned big-box grocery store, which will be completely redesigned into the new 24,000 sq. ft. Southside library.

The creators of the structure, a partnership of Ronald Cornell Faniro Architects of Youngstown and Meehan Architects of Cleveland, are ripping apart the building and incorporating windows at various angles on five sides, permeating the new library with light.

The building will sit at the intersection of Market and Midlothian, an entry point into both Youngstown and Boardman. This project has been called a community center with a library, which will have separate rooms for local organizations to gather. There will be plenty of computers and free wi-fi throughout, a separate space for pre-literacy programs for babies less than 5 years old, a cafe, and books of course. Here is a floorplan of the library.

The design charettes included a separate opinion gathering process for local teenagers, and is one of the signature projects mentioned in the Youngstown 2010 land-use plan.

Instead of the current setup of a monotonous surface of parking and concrete, the space in front of the building will be transformed into a mix of pedestrain walkways and greenspace. When finished next year, library users can walk to such Youngstown institutions as the original Handel's Ice Cream Stand (now 62 years old, and in 32 locations including in Virginia and California) and Scarcella's Italian Restaurant with their homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

In fact, on the Youngstown 2010 site, the Handel's Neighborhood was recently profiled, where you can view a powerpoint featuring homes in the neighborhood and the amenities in walking distance. You can access the profile here.

You can find the website for the library's project here, and a radio show inteview about the project here.

Also referenced on the show was a new media campaign by the Library showcasing various individuals from Youngstown showing their love of reading. They posters are great, and feature a cross-section of the people of Youngstown. Each of the 19 posters can be seen here.

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After years of disinvestment, it is nice to see our neighborhoods fighting back.

Kudos to those who have stayed, and kudos to those who continue to see value in the city.

And to all those in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, come give our library system and city and visit.

1 comment:

Christopher Barzak said...

I can't wait for this.