See What's Happening to the Ardmore Library

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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Elevator Shaft at Entrance

 

This is how, little by little, our patrimony is chipped away by poor planning and third-rate design.   This is the architect's (Vitetta) concept of the forthcoming renovation to the Ardmore Library, showing the $1 million elevator shaft that will run from the children's book room in the basement to the loft/balcony over the entrance.   So instead of walking straight in to the building, you will now have to dodge around this glass box.  Why is there a glass box smack in the middle of the entryway?  So that the elevator can reach the loft:

Loft

The loft is a pleasant enough little (200 square foot) space that sits above the entrance.  (You can see how miniscule it is in the first picture.)  Here the architect shows seating for eight, which is probably the maximum that could be squeezed in.  A great place for small meetings, or maybe a tutoring session . . .  if you don't mind broadcasting your conversation to the entire universe of library patrons down below.  And if they don't mind too much as they are trying to concentrate on their work.   

Yesterday at one of those increasingly depressing public Kabuki events with the Board of Commissioners, there took place the usual dialogue of the deaf.  Whereas Lucky Gladwyne Library dodged a bullet and, because it is not owned by the Township and its plan was subject to HARB approval.  Gladwyne was able to send its conceptual plan back to the architect to figure how to provide ADA-compliant access without sticking an obtrusive elevator shaft on the front of the building.   In the case of Ardmore, unfortunately, the obtrusive elevator shaft is inside, where HARB has no jurisdiction.  The result is going to be the destruction of one of the more beautiful interior public spaces in the Township.   Suggestions that perhaps a rethink would be beneficial such that ADA access to the lower floors could be provided by siting the new elevator where it would not pollute this entranceway were met with incredibly detailed descriptions of how difficult it is to maneuver a wheelchair in the lift that is currently in place.  Since NOBODY was suggesting that the lift should be kept or that the lift provides adequate ADA-compliant accessibility, that was a gigantic non-sequitur. 

Once again we saw a demonstration of how eight commissioners (or in last night's case, seven, which was enough) will rubber stamp any proposal that staff puts in front of them (and veto any alternatives proposed by "outsiders," i.e. the public.  We heard once again the all-too-familiar "this plan has been out there for five years and nobody has objected to it; it's too late to take a second look."  Despite the fact that last night was the first and only time the actual Ardmore concept had come up for discussion.

There was also the argument that every public space should be accessible to the disabled; no quarrel with that, but since the loft has two beautiful staircases, it would be easy enough to install a stairlift device on one of them for use by the three patrons a year who might use it.    There are at least four easily identifiable locations for the new elevator to the basement that would be far less disruptive, and having a two-story elevator instead of this three-story monstrosity would cost less. 

The ostensible reason for pushing ahead yesterday was that there "could" be economy of scale savings by bidding the Gladwyne and Ardmore projects simultaneously, since the main feature of both is a new elevator and ADA-compliant bathrooms.  However, the proponents have had to admit that they don't know whether or not there will be any such cost savings.  Furthermore, Gladwyne will be delayed as they wait for a new basic design.  So what they did last night makes no sense, on top of everything else.

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Wynnewoodie's picture
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Hugh,

Pardon my ignorance, but where is the elevator currently?

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LMT Observer's picture
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Coincidentally, this observer happened to visit the Ardmore Library earlier this week.  

Found the simple interior and entrance into the main room charming.   

Agree fully with Hugh Gordon's assessment and deep frustration with both the architectural plans for renovation and the Township-plus-Commissioner rubber-stamp approval process of the interior design that he critiqued.  

First presentation to the community but a deaf ear turned to well-reasoned public input?  Not possible for the Township staff or members of the Commissioners' Library Committee to find architects who are not tone deaf to ways to enhance the existing interior character of a building rather than "updating" it in a visually ordinary and boring way?  

Agree completely with Hugh's suggestion about a chair lift as an alternative to the glass elevator eyesore to enable handicapped access to the balcony.  Just saw an example of the chair lift solution in a superb restoration of an old hotel.   A chair lift was installed on a short flight of stairs to a library and bar area.    Also, as Hugh Gordon noted wouldn't adopting the chair lift alternative save Township tax payers some money for the renovation of this library?  

Once again we saw a demonstration of how eight commissioners (or in last night's case, seven, which was enough) will rubber stamp any proposal that staff puts in front of them (and veto any alternatives proposed by "outsiders," i.e. the public. We heard once again the all-too-familiar "this plan has been out there for five years and nobody has objected to it; it's too late to take a second look." Despite the fact that last night was the first and only time the actual Ardmore concept had come up for discussion.

There was also the argument that every public space should be accessible to the disabled; no quarrel with that, but since the loft has two beautiful staircases, it would be easy enough to install a stairlift device on one of them for use by the three patrons a year who might use it. There are at least four easily identifiable locations for the new elevator to the basement that would be far less disruptive, and having a two-story elevator instead of this three-story monstrosity would cost less.

The ostensible reason for pushing ahead yesterday was that there "could" be economy of scale savings by bidding the Gladwyne and Ardmore projects simultaneously, since the main feature of both is a new elevator and ADA-compliant bathrooms. However, the proponents have had to admit that they don't know whether or not there will be any such cost savings. Furthermore, Gladwyne will be delayed as they wait for a new basic design. So what they did last night makes no sense, on top of everything else.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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It's along the left wall tucked under the loft, as you face the exit, with the circulation desk on your right.  I've never been inside it, but apparently  it's a cumbersome old lift, not a real people elevator.  No argument that it needs to be replaced.  

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LMT Observer's picture
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Thinking a bit more about the situation that Hugh Gordon described makes this observer scratch noggin.  

The ostensible reason for pushing ahead yesterday was that there "could" be economy of scale savings by bidding the Gladwyne and Ardmore projects simultaneously, since the main feature of both is a new elevator and ADA-compliant bathrooms. However, the proponents have had to admit that they don't know whether or not there will be any such cost savings. Furthermore, Gladwyne will be delayed as they wait for a new basic design. So what they did last night makes no sense, on top of everything else.

Hmmm. 

IF it's already deemed necessary to delay approval of Gladwyne renovation for a new design, AND  

IF "the main feature of both" the Gladwyne and the Ardmore Library renovations is "a new elevator," AND

GIVEN that the proposed elevator to the third floor balcony in the Ardmore Library design, i.e., the part of the elevator that goes only to the ~200' balcony, does not reasonably seem to be an optimal plan, visually or cost-wise, 

THEN WHO on the Board of Commissioners and among the Township staff do not support delaying approval of the Ardmore plan to request an alternative design along the lines that Hugh Gordon described, namely:  chair lift to balcony and no elevator shaft in center of entrance in the main room,    

GIVEN that the "economy of scale savings" rationale for bidding the two projects now doesn't exist because it was deemed necessary to delay approval of the Gladwyne renovation for a new design?    Regarding the latter point, circle back and see the first "IF," above.    

Will not the seven Commissioners who voted to approve the Ardmore Library plan last night even hold themselves accountable to the principle of evaluating the internal logic of their decisions before they allow themselves to graciously grant the rubber stamp to the insiders who seek it from them?       

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LexoTime5's picture
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Oh my, I hope he end rusult looks a lot better than the sketch. The woodwork and railing in the great hall of the existing library is gorgeous and I'd hate to see the ambience ruined.

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carla's picture
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Wow, Hugh ...I was familiar about the issues with their plan for Gladwyne, but not Ardmore's

And today when I drove past Ludington a couple of times I noticed that was not yet finished, either.

What a mess these people continue to make in Lower Merion.

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"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Hugh Gordon's picture
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What I find awesome about Ludington, as seen from Lancaster Avenue at night, since it is now lit up like a used car lot, is the thousands of cubic feet of empty, unusable space they have incorporated into the new building.

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onmyown's picture
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First I disclose that I'm not 100% up on all that's going on at the Gladwyne and Ardmore libraries. It seems the goal is to allow those with less mobility to better access the collections and rest rooms. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that.  From experience, I have some understanding of the obstacles of one who is chair bound. To give access to the collection to someone in a wheelchair, first, the shelves can be no higher than about 4 feet and second the aisles must be wide enough for a 180 degree turn. Why haven't these two simple remedies been thought of and done. And are low shelves and wide aisles a part of the new designs? I guess there is no glamour or political bragging rights in the simple, logical solutions?

And can we agree that having six libraries in our one Township is a luxury. Haverford and Radnor have one library each. We will soon have two Taj Mahal libraries that (I sure hope) will be accessable to all.

We don't need to shove elevators into buildings that were never meant to have them. And if we must, why can't we hire a designer who can get it right the first time. I suppose Vitetta is being paid well for all revisions.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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"Economy of Scale"   - Spend More to Save More  Is this really the best use of Taxpayer money?

How many people need to use the elevator. The existing layout is very charming and conducive to quiet reading. The architect's rendering seems sterile.

Hugh  is right. From the outside the Ludington Library Expansion has a lot of empty, unusable space.  And, as Hugh pointed out previously, fewer books $9 million dollar expansion, and fewer books? And, still, no one knows how many library cards are swiped a day or a week by borrowers.

Is Doug Cleland paid enough?

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onmyown's picture
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That's thousands of cubic feet of air that must be heated or cooled for as long as that space exists. That's thousands of cubic feet with absolutely no use or benefit to the library patrons or the taxpayers.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Not the best decision of our wise and virtuous BOC majority. and it is over budget and behind schedule.

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Chair of the Board of Commissioners' Building and Planning Committee, Elizabeth Rogan, has been observed to call for at least one do over of a vote during her tenure on the Board of Commissioners.

Is it possible that she would consider recommending a reconsideration of the Ardmore Library 3 story elevator design based on initial cost, upkeep and operation costs, need, and aesthetic considerations?  

Reconsideration of the approval vote seems more reasonable and well-justified than not doing so in light of the information in the present SAC thread.

Would Commissioner Rosenzweig support reconsideration of the decision?

 

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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No.  Our wonderful staff must not be micromanaged or second guessed.

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LMT Observer's picture
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Correction:   Elizabeth Rogan is Co-Chair of the Board of Commissioners' Building and Planning Committee.   Phil Rosenzweig is Co-Chair.   

Incidentally, seems that Commissioner Rosenzweig's decision-making might be less likely to be handicapped by concern that Township staff would feel "micromanaged" by a move to reconsider what clearly seems to be a weak decision based on the information in this thread.    (But perhaps Commissioner Rosenzweig is responsive to other considerations that limit his openness to considering review of the vote?)     

 

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MariaHankins's picture
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I see a great renovation plan for this library. I just want to comment on the elevator. They should put a more durable one and it must fit for people, I mean a real people elevator.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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Turns out the elevator in the original plan isn't manufactured any more, so they have had to go back and rethink the design anyway.  

Whatever elevator they put in will be ADA compliant (the current one obviously isn't), which means at least 5x5 feet.

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