Building Beyond the Book

By Mary E. Kremposky, Associate Editor Photography by Marci Christian (from CAM Magazine)

The new Novi Public Library on Ten Mile and Taft is not your parent’s library. A broad sweep of glass curtain wall and an outdoor patio for reading in the fresh air turns this library into an “open book.” Skylights drawing daylight into the 56,000-square-foot interior dissolve the cloistered feel of many older libraries. A library as an introduction to a world of bright ideas is more than just a metaphor at this contemporary facility under construction by Company of Lake Orion.

As design architect, Toronto’s Diamond & Schmitt, and lead architect BEI Associates, Inc., Detroit, married glass to wood on both the interior and exterior. On the interior, a clerestory with a wood screen will mark the main entry and lobby; divisions of glass and oak will lightly separate some spaces. On the exterior, the west-facing glass curtain wall will feature an array of phenolic wood panels in each bay.

Enclosing this concave arc of glass and wood is potential double trouble easily managed by The Dailey team. A double radius curtain wall and a long lead-time for the phenolic panels are among the challenging assignments on this jobsite located within Novi’s municipal campus. “One section of the curtain wall has a 240- foot radius, and then the wall changes to a 770-foot radius,” said Vince Washington, Dailey  superintendent. Added Paul A. Danko, Dailey project manager, “We have a long lead-time of 14 weeks for the phenolic panels.” Shipped all the way from the Netherlands, the panels were probably on a freighter plying the waters of the Atlantic in early July. Once on American soil, these custom panels of varied sizes had to be fabricated and attached to companion insulated panels before installation on the two-story library.

Once complete, the 30-foot-tall curtain wall will serve as a large picture window into the past. The glass curtain wall will offer a welcome vista of a new park surrounding the City’s historic town hall, a simple, wood-framed structure the size of a one-room schoolhouse. Before the current project, the City moved the town hall from the library site to an adjacent parcel, clearing the way for construction of this contemporary library that will house both a fireplace reading room and several computer labs. Novi residents will soon enjoy the comforts of a quiet hearth for reading, coupled with the technological access of the Information Age.

The Dailey Company broke ground in February 2009, aiding both its own and the existing library’s operations by bringing sanitary sewer and site utilities to the jobsite almost immediately. The existing library – a modest building constructed in 1976 as a joint library and City Hall – is located directly to the east of the busy jobsite. “Installing a temporary drive to the existing library’s receiving dock kept the library in operation and made way for the sanitary tap,” said Danko.

The Dailey Company managed spring rains and owner revisions with equal aplomb. During excavation, installation of spread footings and concrete foundations, spring rains pummeled the jobsite during excavation and installation of concrete foundations, leading to a few working Saturdays to maintain the pace of the project.

Even as the structural steel frame rose, The Dailey Company managed revisions driven by the City’s request to revamp storage space into administrative areas and additional community rooms. “We put together four different conceptual budgets to revise the storage layout and add a few community rooms,” said Danko.    The revision changed the exterior arrangement of openings in the south building face.
By early July 2009, the jobsite was in full swing with crew from USA Plumbing, Ray Township, attaching overhead plumbing on the second floor, Conquest Construction Co., Inc., Livonia, installing metal studs and performing the carpentry contract, and Leidal & Hart Mason Contractors, Livonia, laying CMU on the south wall.

Brick will clad three of the four building elevations. Completing the building enclosure, a white roof was installed to reduce cooling costs and promote sustainability. A white roof reflects solar radiation, reducing the Heat Island Effect – a demonstrable increase in temperature in developed areas from the collective heat wave generated by dark pavement, rooftops and less vegetative cover.
Sustainability is also part of the library interior. Skylights line a linear atrium, drawing daylight into the building’s core and over a main stair formed of glass handrails with wood caps. “A daylight harvesting lighting control system will take full advantage of all the natural light entering the building,” said Danko. “Bioswales will be installed on site to retain stormwater and to reuse water with the aid of an irrigation well/pump being installed to feed the landscape sprinkler system.”

Sustainability and a host of innovations are moving the City of Novi’s library system into the 21st century. The new library will double the collections space and will house a cafe?, computer labs, large meeting rooms, a puppet theater and a youth area, complete with an old Indy racecar to entice youngsters into the world of the word. A local history room and even a gift shop will complete this new $10 million dollar facility.

As part of Phase II, Dailey will demolish and convert the existing library into a parking lot to service the new facility, slated to open in the spring of 2010. Building this new gift for the community is the job of The Dailey Company and its team of trade contractors. This well-done job includes the work of Fanning Howey Associates, Inc, Novi, IT designers; Kehrig Steel, Inc., Ira Township, steel; CEI Michigan, LLC, Howell, roofing; CEI Electric Co., Walled Lake, electrical; The Dynamic Group, Inc., Farmington Hills, fire suppression; Ideal Contracting, Detroit, concrete work; and Sunset Excavating, Livonia, earthwork and utilities.