Regional library preparing new venue with new vista for public use

Published on: March 31, 2011

Rendering courtesy Koryn Rolstad Studios, Seattle

Rendering courtesy Koryn Rolstad Studios, Seattle


Keeping pace with a national trend, the SouthShore Regional Library soon will feature yet another artful space for public use.

Construction now is underway at the largest of Hillsborough’s public library satellites on “Sandpiper Pavilions,” about 7,000 square feet of combined public art and community space. Final touches are expected to be completed in October.
Located on the multi-layered library’s north side, adjacent to both its main corridor and the children’s wing, the new space also is known as the James J. Harkins IV Plaza, recognizing years of unremitting effort by the Sun City Center resident to create the facility on its Beth Shields Boulevard site, near 19th Avenue.

The pavilions space is envisioned as an outdoor venue lending itself tastefully as well as functionally to a wide range of purposes.

From the public art perspective, the design by Seattle-based Koryn Rolstad Studios is inspired by the many salt and freshwater shore birds found in a region dotted with rivers, lakes and bordering on Tampa Bay, said Bill Iverson, Hillsborough’s public art project manager.

The two pavilions themselves, each composed of eight- and 10-foot diameter disks eight to 10 feet high, recall the area’s long-legged herons, flamingos, ibis and others atop their curved powdered aluminum posts, Iverson noted. While on the other hand, he said, additional elements of the plaza are meant to reflect the energetic movements of the plaza’s namesake bird, the salt water sandpiper.

Large shade umbrellas, measuring 12 by 12 feet, with tables and chairs in four groupings, are to be scattered across the plaza which itself is to be enclosed with a permanent low-level masonry wall in a serpentine configuration suitable for seating.

The design also calls for sandblasting the patio stone in circular “water drop” patterns which, in the words of the design firm, “connect the two pavilions and float along the side of the …table/umbrella areas.”

During daylight hours, palm leaf patterns will be reflected on the patio stone as the sun shines through cut-outs in the ceiling disks, Iverson said, and after dark sets of colored lights mounted in the building soffits will recreate the same patterns in muted shades.

Landscaping plans include the half dozen oak trees evenly spaced on the long edge of the plaza near the seating wall, accented with palms set between them, Iverson added. The project is bordered by wetlands area and enclosed in security chain link fencing.

But the new library feature is more than just a pretty place, pointed out Bill Hand, project manager in the county’s real estate section. At least 100 chairs placed theater style can be accommodated between the two pavilions, he said. What’s more, he added, a crowd numbering in the 300 range would fit comfortably into the plaza as a whole.

Uses of the pavilion space are envisioned as both active and passive, Hand said. The north side of the library structure is laid out in such a way that catering trucks will be able to access the pavilions and therefore the various types of community events involving food service could be held there, he noted. From business meetings or networking sessions to social functions such as fashion shows or cultural exhibits, all could be conducted on the plaza, Hand suggested.

On the other hand, he added, when the space is not in use for an event and weather conditions are not an issue “some people may want to simply relax out there with a book or their electronic equipment” since the umbrella areas will be wifi equipped.

The key word, both Iverson and Hand emphasized, is “flexibility”; the area is intended to accommodate movement, some of its furnishings to be rearranged as required for a specific use.

When completed, the cost of “Sandpiper Pavilions” is expected to total $130,000, Hand said. The funds were included in the original budget for the regional library.

Like libraries across the nation, the SouthShore Regional provides a wide variety of services to patrons. In addition to its age-appropriate hard and soft cover collections, its audio and video stacks, its current magazine racks, library features include a multi-faceted schedule of classes, the Crawford Art Studio, a genealogy department, computer lab, used book sales section, snack bar, conference rooms and a partition-enabled community room utilized for everything from early voting to small or large public meetings.

Recognizing this range of services, Principal Librarian Lorri Robinson described development of the Sandpiper/Harkins plaza as “representative of how our library – and libraries around the country – are striving to provide a welcoming environment” where the community can seek information, share ideas and enjoy cultural events.

Jim Duffy, a founding member of SouthShore Regional’s Friends of the Library, summed it up even more succinctly, saying “it’s not just for books anymore.”

Supported by taxes, use of the various library features generally is without charge.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson