See What's Happening to the Ardmore Library
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:
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.