Jones Library News Highlights For The Week Of January 16, 2023
Replacement Of Timber With Steel Raises Concerns From Sustainability Committee
With the renovation-expansion project proceeding into the Design Development phase, Finegold Alexander Architects (FAA) has asked the Jones Library Building Committee (JLBC) to resolve three design questions.
At its January 18 meeting, the JLBC approved the cost reduction measure of eliminating the sawtooth roof feature that had been included in the original voter-approved design. Among the benefits of a sawtooth roof are its effectiveness in admitting natural light which reduces the need for artificial lighting, presentation of a vertical surface on which solar panels can be mounted, and continuation of the open feel now provided by the building’s atrium which is slated for demolition. A Value Management exercise has estimated that replacing the sawtooth roof with a flat roof will save $495,000 off the cost of a project that is already $10 million over its original budget.
The designers also asked the JLBC whether the windows of the original 1928 library building should be repaired or replaced at a cost of roughly $170,000. Project Manager Craig DiCarlo of Colliers advised that repairing the windows while introducing the desired energy efficiency would be as expensive as replacing them. Town Manager Paul Bockelman asked if replacing the windows might jeopardize the project’s eligibility for historic tax credits. DiCarlo replied that it should not be a problem as the windows would be replaced with “something that looks historic.” The committee approved the window replacement.
The third design question of whether to use cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction or go with a less expensive hybrid of CLT and steel-and-concrete construction generated some pushback.
In an August 2020 presentation of Sustainability Recommendations the Jones Library Sustainability Committee had recommended using a cross-laminated timber structural system at an estimated cost of $365,926.
JLBC chair Austin Sarat acknowledged surprise in learning that FAA was moving away from the original CLT design. FAA’s Ellen Anselone advised that some steel may be required to meet earthquake codes.
Members of the Sustainability Committee expressed concern, pointing out that CLT construction was an energy conservation measure chosen to reduce the new building’s embodied carbon footprint.
Todd Holland suggested that exposed steel columns that look attractive in architectural renderings may in fact need to be covered with unattractive fire retardant.
Chris Riddle informed the group that the Kern Center at Hampshire College and the new Hitchcock Center for the Environment both use all-CLT construction while complying with building codes, and neither building project had large budgets. “I’d very much like to see the numbers for something that is entirely CLT,” he said.
Sara Draper recalled that after the Sustainability Subcommittee was formed, the “go, no-go” decision around whether the building project should proceed centered on “can we do it without blowing the carbon budget out of the water.” She questioned how the JLBC could come to a decision on reducing CLT in favor of steel without knowing the cost differential and the effect on the carbon footprint.
FAA’s Anselone said her understanding was that the intention from the beginning was to go with a hybrid CLT-steel design. Assessing the carbon footprint of the latest design proposal would require running a complex software modeling tool without all design decisions having been finalized and determining cost savings could require re-engaging cost estimating consultants.
Anselone agreed that she would go back and talk to FAA’s structural engineer and “see if we can reduce the steel and where we can reduce it.”
Capital Campaign Is Now Seeking Pledges Rather Than Cash Donations
Trustee Lee Edwards reported at the January 13 meeting of the Library Budget Committee that the Building Project Capital Campaign had raised $86,306 in December 2022. Of this total, $46,306 was from cash gifts and $40,000 from pledges or gift intentions.
Edwards informed the committee that the Capital Campaign is encouraging donors to make pledges rather than gifts.
“We are telling people that we’re really seeking gift intentions because there is a possibility that the building project will not go forward in which case we will have to contact everybody who has given actual funds about what they would like to have happen to those funds,” she said.
“Would they like them returned,” she continued, “in which case we have an obligation to return them, or if they want to put them to some other use to benefit the library then they will specify it at that time, but we are really asking people not to give money now, just to record their intention to give should the project go forward.”
A Memorandum of Agreement between the Town and the Jones Library Trustees stipulates that the Library shall transfer to the Town Treasurer all Library Project Donations when they are received by the Library, minus reasonable fundraising expenses. To date the Capital Campaign has deposited $500,000 with the Town out of a total commitment exceeding $10 million.
Budget Committee chair Bob Pam announced that on December 31, 2022 the value of the library endowment stood at just under $8 million, roughly 25% below its high mark at the end of 2021.
The Jones Library’s most borrowed book in 2022 was Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel by Anthony Doerr.