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Central Library Plaza Improvements

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I mentioned this back in January here: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/19123-fixing-jones-plaza/?p=444993

 

Not sure how big this improvement project will be.

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/article/Houston-Central-Library-plaza-gets-some-love-5888875.php#/0

 

 

City officials recognize the plaza's potential as a people-gathering space, given its prime location between the Central Library and the beautifully-restored Julia Ideson Library. Wednesday they announced they have a source of funds to improve it: A Heart of the City grant from Southwest Airlines, in partnership with the Project for Public Spaces Inc., a New York nonprofit that has worked behind the scenes for about 40 years to help local groups turn under-used assets into vibrant public spaces. The organization has supported many Houston improvements, including Discovery Green, Market Square Park, Levi Park, Navigation Boulevard and Emancipation Park.


Project for Public Spaces provides technical assistance; Southwest will pay for the amenities and help to kick-start programming.



"It's the right time to award this grant and get the project started," said Megan Lee, Southwest's senior manager for community outreach.



The airline has already funded urban park-improvement projects in San Antonio, Detroit and Providence, Rhode Island. Eventually, it hopes to help revitalize public spaces in each of the 99 cities it serves, Lee said. She plans to have an additional five projects in play next year.



Exactly what will be done and what it will cost aren't yet known; that's partly what the public voting was about. The library will keep the posters up a few weeks before the design is finalized; work should begin in spring.

 

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improvements* in the title of the thread. 

 

I've never been to this library, is it nice? Worth setting up shop to work there occasionally?

well purdue... i'd say that "nice" is a bit of a stretch.  i'll just say that it's good... yes, it's a good library!

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improvements* in the title of the thread. 

 

I've never been to this library, is it nice? Worth setting up shop to work there occasionally?

 

I would never set up shop at the Central Library when the gorgeous Julia Ideson Library is across the street and open to the public. The indoor and outdoor loggia and reading rooms are historic, quiet and elegant. 

 

http://www.ideson.org/photos.php

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This plaza is begging for improvements. It can be made into a GREAT space by some talented group of experts. I am thrilled by this idea!

Last weekend the Skaterboys where having some organized skater event on the plaza. That's good. But sooooo much more could be done that could engage the public in that space.

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The plaza was just redone a few years ago.  Did they just totally muff it that time?

 

if this is true... that person needs to be fired / that money was wasted. The plaza needs a lot of work. It could / will be nice, but painted blue / orange concrete reminds me of an older elementary school.

 

the area needs help.

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I seem to recall some people on here were excited about the plaza redo at the time, but I could never see what all the fuss was about. It seemed to go along with all the lowbrow efforts of the past forty years or so in America of making libraries a fun place for kids, a place that's "welcoming to everyone," that doesn't have grand traditional architecture that might be "intimidating," etc.

 

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I seem to recall some people on here were excited about the plaza redo at the time, but I could never see what all the fuss was about. It seemed to go along with all the lowbrow efforts of the past forty years or so in America of making libraries a fun place for kids, a place that's "welcoming to everyone," that doesn't have grand traditional architecture that might be "intimidating," etc.

Yep.

The next step is to pile ll the books into a wheelbarrow and leave it outside in a field.

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Yep.

The next step is to pile ll the books into a wheelbarrow and leave it outside in a field.

Sort of like Lamar HS when the library there was replaced by a coffee bar and lounge because "all the information is on the Internet"
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I seem to recall some people on here were excited about the plaza redo at the time, but I could never see what all the fuss was about. It seemed to go along with all the lowbrow efforts of the past forty years or so in America of making libraries a fun place for kids, a place that's "welcoming to everyone," that doesn't have grand traditional architecture that might be "intimidating," etc.

 

For some kids it is intimidating in a way, but also very closed off. A library for hundreds of years was nothing but a book museum guarded at the front by a librarian. Most were stuffy, not very well lit, and didn't really try to engage the urban context in anyway. Those problems then compounded itself with the advent of the internet. So not only was it tiring, dim, and non-engaging, but it wasn't very technologically advanced either.

 

I'm in a firm where we design a lot of schools, and one of the biggest differences in schools towards more "21st century learning environments" starts with changing the idea of the library. The project I'm currently working on, the Library isn't even called a library, but a Learning Hub. The space is grand but in a contemporary fashion, lots of light, lots of areas for different tech gadgets, variety in furniture for different study and reading postures, and the Librarian is tucked into the back of the space. The fronts are lined with lots of glass making it more transparent. This is the new idea of the Library.

 

The problem also wasn't ever that people weren't reading. In fact more people are reading now than ever before, but because people can get their books on the go or through the internet you have to create interesting environments for people to want to inhabit or populate a library.

 

I also like small projects like this. Sometimes just a small intervention can make a great difference.

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I think this plaza has an enormous amount of potential; I honestly love both library buildings. Right now the plaza just seems ...unfinished.

 

Ideally they'd actually narrow walker and mckinney and join the plaza, hermann square park and tranquility, but that would of course anger the freeway people.

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For some kids it is intimidating in a way, but also very closed off. A library for hundreds of years was nothing but a book museum guarded at the front by a librarian. Most were stuffy, not very well lit, and didn't really try to engage the urban context in anyway. Those problems then compounded itself with the advent of the internet. So not only was it tiring, dim, and non-engaging, but it wasn't very technologically advanced either.

I'm in a firm where we design a lot of schools, and one of the biggest differences in schools towards more "21st century learning environments" starts with changing the idea of the library. The project I'm currently working on, the Library isn't even called a library, but a Learning Hub. The space is grand but in a contemporary fashion, lots of light, lots of areas for different tech gadgets, variety in furniture for different study and reading postures, and the Librarian is tucked into the back of the space. The fronts are lined with lots of glass making it more transparent. This is the new idea of the Library.

The problem also wasn't ever that people weren't reading. In fact more people are reading now than ever before, but because people can get their books on the go or through the internet you have to create interesting environments for people to want to inhabit or populate a library.

I also like small projects like this. Sometimes just a small intervention can make a great difference.

I'm not sure what you mean by the libraries of the past "not trying to engage the urban context in any way." From what I can tell, the great urban libraries of NY, Boston, Philadelphia, and even our humble Julia Ideson building all admirably engaged the urban context. Kids even find them quite amazing, despite their not having bright primary colors or large expanses of glass. And on a smaller scale, all those little Carnegie libraries in small towns across America engaged whatever context they could find.

I'd also argue whether more people are reading now than ever before. Perhaps, but what are they reading? The National Endowment for the Humanities has been doing a survey for a few decades now and finds that reading of books is in steep decline in America. People might be reading texts and tweets, but reading of substance is not doing well.

And I would argue that it doesn't help the situation when libraries abandon their historical mission of glorifying reading, in a desperate effort to get everyone to come inside and read Facebook, drink coffee, or do whatever. It is getting harder and harder to find a quiet place in today's library to sit and read a book (on paper or e-reader, I have no issue with technology in itself). And when the whole architecture of the place screams "Books are boring!" it's not hard to see why.

Edited by H-Town Man
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I'm not sure what you mean by the libraries of the past "not trying to engage the urban context in any way." From what I can tell, the great urban libraries of NY, Boston, Philadelphia, and even our humble Julia Ideson building all admirably engaged the urban context. Kids even find them quite amazing, despite their not having bright primary colors or large expanses of glass. And on a smaller scale, all those little Carnegie libraries in small towns across America engaged whatever context they could find.

I'd also argue whether more people are reading now than ever before. Perhaps, but what are they reading? The National Endowment for the Humanities has been doing a survey for a few decades now and finds that reading of books is in steep decline in America. People might be reading texts and tweets, but reading of substance is not doing well.

And I would argue that it doesn't help the situation when libraries abandon their historical mission of glorifying reading, in a desperate effort to get everyone to come inside and read Facebook, drink coffee, or do whatever. It is getting harder and harder to find a quiet place in today's library to sit and read a book (on paper or e-reader, I have no issue with technology in itself). And when the whole architecture of the place screams "Books are boring!" it's not hard to see why.

Well said.

It seems that in our constant desire to "reinvent"the library, each "reincarnation" results in less than before. Give me the librarian, rules of conduct, quiet research, and the books. If that means that some kids (and their parents) turn away, fine. The idea that we can all sip sodas and tweet at the library seems off putting to me. That said, the plaza in front of the libaray, can be made to be more of a social setting. I am all-in for that.

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