Thursday, June 08, 2006

No Longer the Baby

When the folks who had glimpsed the nearly-completed area library all used the words “green and purple” to describe it, I wondered if the place pays homage to the Ridge Theater, c. 1989. Now that I have seen it, too, “purple and green” is indeed the overall impression. Like at the Ridge, and as was so popular c. 1990, accent walls in the new library are awash in strong colors in the purple, teal, and blue families. I think the rose walls were only in offices. Different carpets help define different spaces; they are in grays, greens, and purples, with wacky insets in the teens’ and children’s areas.

All, or nearly all, shelving now having been placed, New T also gives the impression of an academic library. Stairs lead down to where most of the adult collection will be, and my view to the right from them was of countless empty shelves, all the way to the wall at the far end of the huge space, lined up and waiting. So many those linear feet, combined with a glassed-in “quiet study” room, do seem like one floor of a college library.

The outside, luckily, is red brick, not purple or green. It’s dullish post-modernism in style, looking like a cousin to County public schools built in the last several years. Its massing is such that it does give the good, solid, proud feel that an important public building ought, even if its occasional playful round windows suggest a lighter mood.

Other features of note include a coffee bar, crazy – er, colorful – room for story time, mostly-enclosed teen area, several group study rooms, and a view of a charming drainage pond complete with the rats of modern suburbia, Canada geese.

I went to a meeting at New T with apprehensions like, Will I need a hardhat? and, What if I need a bathroom? Silly me. At this point, dozens of people are at work on the floors and wall. Of course there were lots of bathrooms ready for use (with tp, if not paper towels). A whole group of men bustled about with keys and plans, pointing at things. Others sat on the carpeted floor, wiring each of hundreds of outlets for the computers and copiers and whatnot. Like NP, the sunken floor outlets have clever little trap doors to protect them, so someone has to go around cutting up scraps of carpet and affixing them to the doors, so it all blends in very nicely. Study tables, computer desks, and most easy chairs have yet to arrive, so it is also clear what these next months are for: more assembly and decoration, plus hooking up and testing computer systems for nearly 200 PCs and laptops. Oh yes, and the books. New ones will be shipped in from a warehouse and the current collection has to be carried around the corner – and then it will be Grand Opening time. I’ll keep you posted, but an opening party should happen in early October.

I returned to sweet little NP knowing we’re no longer the spoiled baby, the showplace, the place meetings of regional library directors will be held. We’ll just have to work to be the most rockin’ Branch -- as opposed to “Area” -- Library.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Sniff. Poor Ridge...the first and once-grandest of Richmond's zillionplexes. It opened in, I believe, '72 to great fanfare. The opening night spiel in the T-D gave rise to my personal definition of oxymoron, touting the place as a "luxury twin cinema." How the Ridge could qualify as luxurious in a city possessed of Loew's, the National, Colonial, Capitol and Byrd is beyond me, but hey, it WAS the '70s. And boy, do I remember that green and purple. It looked, in retrospect, as though Barney had been vivisected.