Library board chooses direction for University Heights Library renovation

View of a possible new exterior of the University Heights Library, from Cedar Road looking southwest. 

At its Sept. 28 meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees announced the direction and scope for the 2016 renovation of the University Heights Library.

The meeting included a detailed presentation by Cleveland-based architecture firm CBLH Design Inc., which included conceptual renderings of the interior and exterior of the proposed design. Residents and library staff had opportunity during the meeting to examine the drawings, ask questions of the board and architects, and offer feedback.

“The design we’ve selected seeks to best accommodate the wishes of our residents and patrons, such as more parking, a rear door off the parking lot, a fully functioning elevator, first floor bathrooms, and designated areas for children and teens,” said Rob Fischer, Heights Libraries board president. “The University Heights branch is the library's second-most heavily used building, after Lee Road, and these changes and additions will make it an even more functional resource for the Heights community.”

At a Sept. 8 Heights Libraries board committee meeting, CBLH presented three design concepts for the University Heights Library. The designs represented price points between $1 million and $4.5 million, and the selected design’s price will be approximately $4.3 million in anticipated project costs. Heights Libraries will pay for the renovation through money already budgeted in its building and repair fund—no new funds will be used for the renovation.

In preparation for the renovation, Heights Libraries has purchased two houses directly to the south of the library (2175 and 2179 Fenwick Drive), and will close on a third house (2183 Fenwick Drive) in October. The houses will be demolished in the fall, and the additional space will allow Heights Libraries to expand the building and the parking lot.

“We will be working closely with the City of University Heights to ensure that the new building’s design makes the best use of the existing space and meets the needs of the city and its citizens,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director.

Heights Libraries will submit designs to the City of University Heights for review while CBLH begins work on detailed plans.

While the design may change as the project moves forward in the chosen schematic, Marc Bittinger, CBLH principal, describes the design as “a rectilinear glass shape, clad in wood, which promotes visibility both in and out to Cedar Road and creates a warm yet contemporary aesthetic. The new addition also promotes the original architecture by continuing its architectural lines, forms, and massing throughout the project while allowing the existing building to engage the addition to highlight some of the building’s original features.”

John Rach, CBLH project manager, added, “We design each library to capture the unique character of its community and believe this building will further reinforce its place in University Heights. We are very excited to be working on a project that is so important to its community.”

Many of the features of the new design schematic are a direct result of public meetings that Heights Libraries held in the winter of 2014, where residents were invited to share their hopes for the future of the University Heights Library.

Heights Libraries hopes to break ground in June 2016, and anticipates the project will take eight to 12 months.

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 9:36 AM, 10.05.2015