The Kanawha County Public Library’s board approved this week paying Charleston-based Silling Associates Inc. an additional roughly $181,000 to design a new plaza along the main library’s Capitol Street entrance.
The library system has already paid $15,000 toward the fee, according to the contract amendment the board approved Tuesday.
Silling will itself hire landscape, fountain and lighting consultants to help with the design, the amendment says.
The library system is in the midst of pursuing a previously estimated $27 million renovation and expansion of the main library, located in Charleston on the corner of Capitol and Quarrier streets.
The plaza work was not part of that estimation, and the contract amendment projects it will cost $880,000 to build, atop the $181,000 in design costs.
Board Vice President Ben Thomas said he doesn’t know yet what the total project budget will now be.
The board approved the amendment after spending about an hour-and-a-half in closed session.
Currently, there is a plaza along the Capitol Street entrance, with a fountain, sculpture, plant boxes and a couple trees.
“It kind of separates you from the original building, and it’s really, probably an underperforming asset,” Jody Driggs, a principal with Silling, said last month. He criticized the walls and plant boxes in the area.
Driggs proposed a “deconstruction and reconstruction” of the plaza, including “really taking the walls of the plaza away” and installing a central terrace with amphitheater-like seating where lectures and other programs could happen. He also suggested a reflection pool, public art and other features.
Regarding the new proposal, Thomas said, “There’s a lot of greenery that’s going to be planted and there’s a lot of lighting and there’s a water feature that goes into it, at least as it’s currently envisioned.”
He said the plaza may be extended to go in front of the new wing that’s planned to be built onto the current building.
Silling, alongside Ohio-based HBM Architects, has been providing design and planning work for the main library project going back to when the board was considering leaving the current location. In November 2017, the board voted to stay at the current site, but significantly renovate and expand it.
The library system didn’t provide this week the latest figures on how much Silling and HBM are set to receive for their work, in total.