Heights Libraries will turn former YMCA gym into new innovation center
Fulfilling a promise made to the community in 2005 to fully renovate the old YMCA building on Lee Road, Heights Libraries will turn the old YMCA gymnasium space into the Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center (HKIC), a flexible 4,000-square-foot space designed to support the technological and workspace needs of local businesses, nonprofits and individuals.
The gymnasium space is the last part of the old YMCA building, now known as the West Wing, to be renovated. The building currently houses Dobama Theatre, Family Connections Little Heights Literacy Playroom and Heights Libraries’ computer lab and computer classroom.
The gymnasium is directly above Dobama Theatre. Architects from Studio Techne designed the new space and Sterling Professional Group was chosen as the contractor. Construction started in November and is to be completed in April 2013 for a total cost of $485,300 from Heights Libraries’ Building and Repair Fund.
“The workspace and technological needs of our customers have increased enormously since our Lee Road branch was renovated in 2005,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “In 2009, we asked community stakeholders how they wanted us to use the gym space, and the response was overwhelmingly in favor of expanded work and technology space.”
Highlights of the new center include:
- An improved computer lab with 26 roomy work stations and computers featuring Microsoft Office Software
- Expanded wireless access in the HKIC lounge area
- An additional small study room
- iPad rental (iPads must remain at HKIC)
- A special collection of business and technology-related books and magazines
- A production work area with office supplies, such as a copier, printer, scanner, fax machine, binding machine and laminating machine
- A video, sound and digital media lab
“People can come to HKIC to work on a résumé, apply for a job, relax and do some creative writing, try out an iPad, meet with their colleagues, put together a presentation, just about anything,” said Levin. “Studio Techne designed the space to be very flexible, allowing it to change and grow as technologies change and our customers’ needs change.”
In addition to the new HKIC space, the current computer lab will be renovated with a new false ceiling, lighting and carpeting, and will become the new home of Family Connections Little Heights Literacy Playroom, which is currently on the second floor of the West Wing. Dobama Theatre will not be affected by the renovation.
Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.