A city commission unanimously approved final plans for the redevelopment of a city library and received initial information on a prospective project that might result in the deconstruction of a century-old chapel at a meeting Wednesday evening.
The plans for a redeveloped Madison Central Public Library – which have been circulating through the city planning process since 2009 – received final approval from the Urban Design Commission after facing a number of unforeseen obstacles throughout the past several months.
Although this was the project’s first time asking the commission for approval, the plan’s designer, Potter Lawson Inc. Director of Design Doug Hirsch, said he had met with UDC earlier in the process and has consistently received immense support for the plans and the general concept of a renovated Central Library.
Plans call for the library to be renovated at the intersection of Fairchild and North Henry Streets across from the Overture Center for the Arts. Hirsch said its location is key because a number of the additions to the library’s current design play off of the aesthetic structure of the Overture, including glass detailing in many areas of the building and a light well in the proposed children’s area near the front of the building facing Mifflin Street.
“The playfulness of the detail with the glass really makes the structures of the library and the Overture dynamic, it creates a dialogue between them,” UDC member Dawn O’Kroley said.
Other additions to the library include planting large trees along the North Henry Street wall, adding bicycle racks and reconstructing the sidewalks. The rooftop will also include a public seating area.
The commission also took up an informational presentation for a proposed St. Francis Episcopal Student Center located at the center of the University of Wisconsin campus on the 1000 block of University Avenue.
The project proposes constructing a 12-story, student-oriented housing building at the corner of University Avenue and Brooks Street, where St. Francis currently sits.
The project’s head developer John Leja said the church is suggesting moving the 1929 house and chapel that currently make up the St. Francis building to make room for the new building. The 1965 addition to the church would be deconstructed entirely, he said.
Leja said the church wants to move the original structures more in line with the Luther Memorial Church, also located on the 1000 block of University Avenue – a suggestion that drew harsh criticism from Luther Memorial representatives.
Luther Memorial Council President Al Larson said the church disapproved of the project because it would create an adverse effect on the church’s visual presence.
“We are opposed to this particular development in its current condition,” Larson said. “There is a lot of stained glass on that side of the church and we’re concerned about light reaching it.”
The UDC referred the project until a later date to allow the proposers time to consider changes.