Board Approves Recommended Design Firms for Initial Branch Renovations

On August 29, the Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees voted to approve recommendations for the design firms selected to enter into negotiations to renovate or rebuild five branch libraries: Hough, Jefferson, Walz, West Park, and Woodland. This development marks an early and significant step in the Library’s ambitious Facilities Master Plan, which sets out to evaluate and transform every branch library throughout the system within the next decade.

The Board of Trustees is prepared to enter into negotiations with five design firms or teams, which are recommended to complete the specified work at the following branches:

  • Moody Nolan—Hough Branch (new building at new location);
  • Wanix Architects/Williams Architects—Jefferson Branch (renovation and addition);
  • Bialosky Cleveland/Robert P. Madison Architects—Walz Branch (new building);
  • Vocon—West Park Branch (renovation and addition); and
  • Bostwick Design Partnership/Ubiquitous Design—Woodland Branch (major renovation and addition, including a central distribution center).

“When Clevelanders showed their overwhelming support for the Library by voting ‘yes’ for the levy in 2017, we committed to embarking on a visionary, system-wide assessment of our facilities,” says Maritza Rodriguez, President of the Board of Trustees. “By approving these firms, we are beginning to fulfill our promise to the community to take a close look at our neighborhood libraries to ensure our communities’ needs are being met, both now and into the future.”

Cleveland Public Library’s Facilities Master Plan focuses on meeting emerging service patterns and usage needs and considers the renovation, expansion, or relocation of all of the Library’s neighborhood branch libraries. These efforts will ensure the Library can successfully provide contemporary library services to Cleveland residents well into the future. The Facilities Master Plan emphasizes forward-thinking, human-centered design to create functional, efficient library spaces that will benefit the Cleveland community for years to come.

Phase 1 of this long-term plan includes 13 branches, including a central distribution center at the site of Woodland Branch, and will take approximately five years to implement. The first five branches listed above represent Phase 1A, the first half of this initial phase. The approved architecture and design firms were recommended following a robust approval process that examined the firms’ qualifications as well as their contributions to equity and inclusion.

Equity and Inclusion

“Cleveland Public Library made a commitment to serve a diverse community, and to do so, we need to mirror the people who live here,” says Dr. Sadie Winlock, Chief Equity, Education, and Engagement Officer. “As we prepare to invest the taxpayers’ money into our branch libraries, we need to be as inclusive, as diverse, and as equitable as possible. Throughout this process, that’s what we did.”

The Library assembled a Supplier Diversity Committee, largely comprised of external stakeholders, to ensure the Facilities Master Plan creates pathways for diversity in the design, engineering and construction of library spaces. During a pre-proposal meeting earlier this summer, the Board and Library leadership particularly encouraged proposals from minority- and women-led firms.

Seventeen firms submitted architecture and design proposals for Phase 1. A short list of five qualifying firms/teams was created for Phase 1A. All five recommended firms or teams reflect the diverse communities they will serve: one firm is woman-owned, one is minority-owned, and the other three teams include minority design partners that will support the architectural design of the branches.

Dr. Winlock stressed that the Library’s commitment to achieving equity was department-wide, with a Selection Committee comprised of employees from the legal, public services, construction, and equity and education making a team effort throughout this process. Furthermore, the leadership of Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library, ensured the Library’s personnel remained committed to the goal of improved diversity and equity.

The Selection Committee for the Phase 1A design firms consisted of Joyce M. Dodrill, Chief Legal Officer; Eric Herman, Construction Project Manager; Harriette Parks, Director of Public Services; Jeremiah Swetel, Chief Operations Officer; Dr. Sadie M. Winlock, Chief Equity, Education, and Engagement Officer; and Jasmine Sims, Operations Project Coordinator.

The Board and Library leadership endeavor to complete the branch renovations outlined in the comprehensive Facilities Master Plan by the close of 2029. The Library’s historic South Branch, which underwent an extensive preservation and renovation process and reopened to the public in December 2018, serves as an example of the Library’s vision for functional, modern, and forward-thinking neighborhood branch libraries.