With the proposed new Hyattsville Branch Library, community members said they want to mix tradition and technology — provided the current site’s flying saucer is included in the design.
Representatives of Beltsville-based Grimm + Parker Architects met with community members Aug. 13 to discuss the estimated $14.3 million new library scheduled to open in 2016, said Kathleen Teaze, director of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.
Patrons raised concerns about how adding state-of-the-art technology would interfere with traditional library features such as diverse book collections and quiet, meeting rooms.
A key discussion point was maintaining the distinctive flying saucer structure above the building’s entrance.
“People don’t want to throw away all the traditional with the new. They want a blending of it, which is what we want to do,” said Michael Gannon, associate director for administrative services of Prince George’s County Memorial Library.
The approximately 20-foot tall structure is made of concrete, steel and glass, Gannon said.
The saucer was “cutting-edge” when the building opened during the Space Race — a competition between the United States and Soviet Union to determine which nation would travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere, Gannon said.
Ginny May of University Park has frequented the library since it opened in 1964 and described the saucer as “the neighborhood mascot.”
“At first, the people in this area would laugh about it. It caused a lot of giggles,” May said. “But over the years, it became like a warm, fuzzy teddy bear and it was our local landmark. It really stands out when you drive down Adelphi Road and I would hate to see it gone.”
Several people at the meeting said the new library should continue devoting resources to the print collection, since they preferred reading on paper rather than tablets and computer screens. Gannon said most libraries, including Hyattsville’s, have decreased their print resources with reference materials being shifted online.
Construction is expected to begin in 2015 and last 12 to 18 months. During that period, the library will move to a temporary, smaller location that has not yet been determined.
The two closest branches are Bladensburg Branch Library on Annapolis Road, which is about 3 miles away, and the New Carrollton Branch Library on Riverdale Road, which is about 4 miles away.
Gannon said renovations have been planned since 1988. Two years ago, the county was approached about a rebuilding project since the facility was approaching its 50th year.
Melanie Hennigan, partner at Grimm + Parker, said the saucer structure’s size will make it difficult to preserve.
“I think it’s an intriguing challenge. We’re looking forward to studying what might be possible,” Hennigan said.