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The reading atrium of the new Waterdown Libary will be open and feature plenty of natural light.

New library to be “community destination”

By Catherine O’Hara, REVIEW STAFF

A sleek-looking multi-use complex will be built on the site of the former Flamborough Town Hall along Dundas Street East. Designs for the 23,500-square-foot facility, which will be home to the consolidated Millgrove and Waterdown library branches, as well as the city’s Municipal Service Centre, Flamborough Information and Community Services, the Flamborough Archives, Hamilton Police Service and a recreation centre, were unveiled to the public at an open house on May 8.

The preliminary designs by RDH Architects feature a unique, tiered plan created to work with the grading of the sloped site. With most of its facades covered in energy-efficient coated glass, the facility will be flooded with light, providing patrons with an open, airy place to gather.

“The idea is to have as much natural light as possible because that’s what people really enjoy being in,” said Karen Anderson, Hamilton Public Library’s director of public service and branches.

Meeting all of the province’s accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the new facility is divided into a number of areas that cater to the variety of services available at the site.

The south-facing entry point leads directly to the City of Hamilton’s Municipal Service Centre, where staff are working to ensure that the layout will be a “good, efficient use of space,” said the city’s director of customer service, access and equity, Jane Lee. That’s where local residents can pay their property taxes, parking and provincial offences fines, purchase or renew their dog licences, acquire transit passes or open-air burning permits, obtain tourism information, pick up a recycling bin and waste collection calendar and receive information about city-related services.

According to the designs on display at the May 8 open house, Flamborough Information and Community Services will occupy space adjacent to the Municipal Services Centre. A small space has also been set aside for the Hamilton Police Service.

The recreation centre, which Waterdown seniors are eager to utilize, is roughly 4,500 square feet of open space.

The Hamilton Public Library’s Waterdown branch will occupy the remainder of the space, approximately 15,000 square feet. And included in the library’s footprint is space for the Flamborough Archives.

“It’s going to be beautifully light and airy, which, I think, is very different from the traditional library that is on Mill Street now,” said archivist Sylvia Wray at the open house, held at the Flamborough Family YMCA.

With roughly 700 square feet of space along the west side of the establishment, the Flamborough Archives will be able to continue its work and safely store its historical documents. The space, noted Wray, will also allow for a possible display of relics, which the local archivist said they’ve never been able to do.

“I think it is something that is going to attract people,” noted Wray. “I think that this new building is going to be able to assist the archives in promoting what we are all about.”

The library, resembling that of the Turner Park and Ancaster branches, will offer patrons a living room space with soft seating and a fireplace. That area, said Anderson, could be seen as a “third place” for community residents, one that is neither their home nor office but is just as welcoming and comfortable.

“It’s a community destination,” she said.

The facility will also be outfitted with various study spaces, catering to both group and individual studies. An expansive computer area, featuring access to the Internet, will be designed to accommodate the needs of the community as they evolve.

“We know, over the years and the decades ahead, the service is going to change. Some collections will change, maybe in favour of study tables or more computers or fewer computers,” explained Anderson. “It’s a very flexible space.”

The contemporary facility, noted project designer and RDH associate Tyler Sharp, will include eco-features such as a large green roof that will allow for a reduction in urban heat island effect and the amount of water funnelled into the city’s storm water system.

Since the new Waterdown Library and Civic Centre features so much glass, it will reduce the amount of electrical energy used. “When you have more glass in a building, you have more daylight and you are less reliant on lights,” said Sharp.

Anderson also highlighted the outdoor terrace, which library officials hope to position on the green roof, directly above the recreation centre.

“We are hoping to incorporate a reading patio so people will actually be able to go outside and have a reading space,” she said.

The project is in its early stages of development and still has to go through site planning approvals.

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