As libraries adapt with modern times, they must create new places of community where citizens can learn and share. Library patron age and technology use define how library space is allocated. Like many, Elmhurst Library was divided into spaces dedicated by age. Director Mary Beth Harper sought to create a multi-generational “maker space” where all patrons could invent, collaborate, and design projects–together.
Early in the concept stage, PCS experience pinpointed the core obstacle. Makerspaces work best at the intersection of age-dedicated spaces. Elmhurst Public Library’s Adult and Children’s Departments are on separate floors. Other potential locations within common areas and administrative areas were considered. Ultimately, the building’s stacked layout did not have the room to be successful.
The solution was to annex basement space and work collaboratively with the architect, building department and construction manager to stretch the budget to cover the opportunity. Finishes, accessibility and egress were key challenges. PCS cost analysis revealed an expensive operable partition system that was not fully understood or needed. It was cut from the program. A new “raw” interior design approach made a major cost contribution. Commodity materials and concrete walls got a vivid, industrial interior design to compensate for lack of natural light. LED lighting provides ample lighting needed for working on intricate designs. Egress and bathrooms were sorted.
Today the patrons of Elmhurst are very proud of their makerspace and are equally proud of the works they produce there themselves with little knowledge of the intense collaboration that went into creating their makerspace. Director Mary Beth Harper knows that her prized makerspace may have never happened if not for the collaboration made possible by the early involvement of a PCS construction manager in the design process. “The collaborative work between my construction manager and our architect brought my ideas into reality,” she states. “My ideas that may have never come to life without the early pre-construction services of a construction manager.”