Preservation panel OKs library look

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After weeks of revisions to Augusta's proposed new library, the historic preservation committee signed off on the latest look, and the library board chairwoman said the board is moving forward.

Augusta Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Mark Lorah, who was authorized by the commission to mediate the design, approved the alterations Tuesday, immediately after a meeting with civic and community leaders who had expressed concerns about the proposed building.

Afterward, Library Board Chairwoman Jane Howington said, "We're moving forward. There are just so many times we can keep changing things."

Mrs. Howington has held several meetings with the architects and leaders from Augusta Tomorrow, Historic Augusta, the preservation commission and others in an effort to bring everyone on board.

Among the changes are those to the front entrance, which will be constructed with limestone instead of black granite as originally proposed. Major changes also have been made to the Greene Street side of the building to make it more compatible with the houses there.

City Administrator Fred Russell attended Tuesday's meeting and encouraged the board to settle on a final design so the city can move forward with bid packages.

The $22 million building at James Brown Boulevard between Greene and Telfair streets is being built with special-purpose sales-tax money with oversight by the city's project manager.

Mrs. Howington has worked to get all parties on board with the design before launching a capital campaign to raise $3 million needed to complete the project.

The library has been designed by the Craig Gaulden Davis architectural firm of Greenville, S.C.

The preservation commission initially rejected the design, and Mr. Lorah has been working with library board architects to come up with something satisfactory to most.

Mrs. Howington has said the project has been in the works for five years and discussed openly but that no one seemed to have any objections until the 11th hour before the bidding and construction are scheduled to start.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.


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