SOUTHINGTON — The library board on Monday night unanimously chose a Farmington architectural firm to draw up plans for a new or renovated library.
The board recommended a contract with QA+M Architecture. The hire must be approved by the Town Council, which is scheduled to meet next week.
A planning committee interviewed four firms last week. Joanne Kelleher, a library board and planning committee member, said all four specialized in library construction and renovation.
“They were all selected (for interviews) because they had experience designing libraries,” she said. “Probably any of the four of them would qualify.”
Library leaders said they liked QA+M’s approach to addressing space and safety concerns with the existing library building on Main Street. With a tentative budget at about $10 million, library director Kristi Sadowski said it’s likely the current building will be incorporated into the new construction.
Kelleher said QA+M’s team included a Southington resident. She felt they emphasized understanding the town’s needs the most.
The firm would also help write grants and build support for a referendum if the library construction project went forward.
“They’re going to be with us every step of the way,” said Kevin Curtiss, library board chairman.
Walter Grover, a library board member, felt the Farmington firm had specialized expertise that local companies lacked.
“We’re not going to find that with someone who does house building or plazas,” he said. “These guys specialize in libraries.”
While some of the firms focused on their work elsewhere, Grover said QA+M focused on how to customize a new building to the town’s needs and budget.
The town budgeted $35,000 for the design work and all four companies interviewed came in just under that threshold.
Before beginning to work on designs, QA+M would review existing conditions and talk with fire officials about existing fire code violations. The company will also conduct interviews with library leaders, staff and community members about what’s needed in the library.
Kelleher said the company would have no problem coming up with a design in time for a November 2020 referendum.
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