It has taken nearly five years for the vision to become reality, but the new Newfield Branch of the Bridgeport Public Library will finally kick off construction this spring.
In 2013, the Bridgeport Public Library embarked on the process of creating a master plan of their branch facilities throughout the City. In coordination with MS&R Design of Minneapolis, Antinozzi Associates provided a comprehensive study to plan the future of these vital community facilities.
Based on the results of the study, and the need to meet challenging demographic and technological program changes, the Library purchased three sites to create new branches to revitalize the City’s East End neighborhoods and reinvigorate the Library’s community impact. The library program philosophy for each of these branches centered on the implementation of “Tech Centers” to incorporate distinct spaces dedicated for children, teens, and adults, a public community room, large and small study rooms, a library “marketplace”, numerous computer stations, extensive wi-fi capability; and an outdoor courtyard area for reading or gathering.
The Newfield Branch, to be built on an adjacent site to the existing branch, is on the southeast corner of what has been called the “East End Civic Block”, an approximately three-acre site located at the corner of Stratford Avenue and Central Avenue. This block has long been planned for mixed-use commercial and residential development by the City, with the Library spearheading the site’s development by relocating its currently dilapidated facility back to its original location decades ago at 755 Central Avenue.
The existing building, a brick masonry Carnegie-style library built around 1900, is comprised of two levels of approximately 3,400 SF each and will be completely renovated. The upper level of the existing building will contain the adult reading room and collections. The lower level will be utilized for staff use, utility space, and may be fit out in the future for library program space. The proposed new addition to the west of the existing building will be approximately 8,000 SF. Most of the addition will be at the same level as the upper level of the existing renovated structure and will contain the main circulation desk, study rooms, and both teen and children program areas. The north portion of the addition, or main entry, will be accessible at grade and will be utilized as a community meeting wing available for after-hours use. This entry point will also connect to the existing lower level of the existing structure. The total net project area of the existing renovated building and the new addition will total nearly 16,000 SF.
The design of the new Library addition has been purposely elevated to align with the main upper level of the existing historic building. The site around the addition along Revere Street and to the west will be bermed to minimize the height of the raised structure. Exterior façade materials will be a combination of brick to match the existing building, accent brick, and simulated wood composite metal panels. In addition, a new reading terrace will be located along Central Avenue of the existing building, which formerly served as the main entrance of the Library and previous uses. This new reading terrace will be tiered with a lower level of landscaping in order to minimize wall heights.
Construction documents for the project have been submitted to the City for permit review and the pre-bid process has begun. Construction is expected to start by mid-March with construction completion by early 2019. Ashlar Construction LLC, who recently relocated to Bridgeport, will be the construction manager for the project. The engineering team included Pereira Engineering LLC (civil), Thomas A. Torrenti PC (structural), and Salamone & Associates PC (M/E/P).