Jones Library to revise building plans, stay with Boston architects

  • The Jones Library FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/19/2019 12:14:54 PM
Modified: 7/19/2019 12:14:42 PM

AMHERST — Boston architects who completed designs for an expanded and renovated Jones Library building will be asked to continue working on the $35.6 million project.

Library trustees on Thursday agreed to seek a quote from Finegold Alexander Architects, which previously prepared schematics, to revise those plans and adjust the location of the large meeting room at the library. 

The need to amend the plans comes from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which informed library officials that the large meeting room, also known as the Woodbury Room, be moved from the library’s first floor to the ground level because of an overcrowding of services on that floor.

“It’s a question about moving the meeting room and adjusting a few things,” said trustee Tamson Ely, who serves as chairwoman of the trustees’ buildings and facilities subcommittee.

Ely said a discussion at the subcommittee revealed that there was no need to seek a new architect.

Trustee Alex Lefebvre said that Finegold Alexander has experience in both sustainability and historical preservation and that it is more cost-efficient to stick with the company than to try to find a different architect.

Trustee Robert Pam, though, said it might be time to consider alternatives, while Austin Sarat, the president of the trustees, acknowledged that a new architect would substantially delay the process.

Without making this change, a $13.87 million MBLC grant, which would help pay for adding 17,000 square feet to the 48,000 square foot building, could be jeopardized.

Amherst is currently fourth on the waiting list among Massachusetts communities seeking state funding for library projects. Other cities and towns, including Hadley and Greenfield, have been awarded money to build new libraries over the past two years.

In the original designs, the large meeting room would have access from inside the building, as well as from an after-hours entrance on the building’s west side, next to the Amherst History Museum.

Library Director Sharon Sharry said that the new schematics will include floor plans and illustrations of the building’s mass, but not specific details, such as finishes and furnishings.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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