The Cary Town Council is eying the most expansive, and expensive, of three public art concepts for a future downtown parking deck to ensure the structure not only looks appealing from the adjacent Downtown Park but becomes an added draw to downtown.
Council members discussed the art options July 20 as well as the library’s exterior at a work session to help Wake County representatives streamline several building concepts into a final design.
This is part of a joint plan between the town and the county to replace the 11,000-square-foot library on South Academy Street with a larger one on 3 acres at the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road. The county is providing most of the $7 million for the library while Cary is providing the land.
The plan also includes a 350-space parking deck that will be built next door. Cary will pay an estimated $7.15 million for the parking deck, and Wake County will contribute $1 million for parking. The county plans to begin construction in the summer of 2017 and open the library November 2018.
Based on the council’s preferences at the work session, the project could exceed the budget and would require more money from the town. Wake County representatives will return to the council next month with a final plan and cost estimates.
Integrated public art
At the meeting, Tom Drugan of Haddad|Drugan, a Seattle-based studio selected to design the integrated art for the deck, presented three options for integrated public art for the parking deck.
Most of the council members favored having a pixelated image of trees that mimic the surrounding nature of the future Downtown Park on the north side of the building. This facade would have openings in it that could be lit internally at night, giving the parking deck a firefly effect.
“I think it takes a huge facade of the deck and really does something spectacular with it,” councilman Don Frantz said. “I love the fact that it blends into the park and uses brick as a major component.”
There was little support for a perforated metal tree with LED words shooting out from its branches on the northwestern corner of the parking deck. Others, including councilman Ed Yerha, liked a three-dimensional textured brick tree on the southwestern corner of the deck, but some disagreed.
“It looks like Minecraft to me,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “It doesn’t have enough movement. It’s not as sophisticated looking as option A.”
While there was a consensus on what the parking deck should look like, there was some debate about how the library should look, based on concepts presented by county representatives.
The 22,000- to 25,000-square-foot Cary library will be two floors plus a basement. As a regional library, it would offer additional programming, a large multipurpose room and an increased volume of books.
In the past, council members have expressed a desire for an iconic brick structure with large windows overlooking Downtown Park that complements the park and nearby Cary Arts Center.
Concept plans presented last week showed a front facade that is made up of a majority of glass with some brick. The plans vary on where the majority of the brick is located, including one plan with an asymmetrical brick wall with smaller windows.
“I love how you have the glass and the big view of the arts center on one side and the glass and the big view of the park on the other side,” Frantz said. “I think the brick in the middle does a little bit to break it up so it isn’t just one massive wall of glass or a massive wall of brick. I think it’s got character. I think it would work well.”
While some liked how the brick wall to the right of the front door breaks up an entirely glass facade, others didn’t like the concept’s asymmetrical look.
“To me, all three have too much glass,” Yerha said. “This one has more brick but it’s all in one place, sort of off the center. I’d like to see something more symmetrical.”
The council also leaned toward adding restrooms, a lobby and shell space for a future occupant in the library’s basement for up to $600,000. These restrooms could be accessed by visitors of the performance space at the future Downtown Park.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon