Letters to the Editors
On new library in Clearwater, opinions diverge
© St. Petersburg Times,
I do not like the cold, hard lines of the proposed new Clearwater library. I envision a statuesque building with Mediterranean-type architecture similar to the downtown post office.
I can't understand why anyone would want an all-glass building, especially on the west side of the bluff. Having lived in Clearwater since 1966, I know what that west sun can do to the electric bills. Who needs a view when they are visiting the library to do research or just rent or read a book? Make the east side of the building the entrance side and have a few windows there.
I think it would be nice if the entire downtown area followed a Mediterranean motif. It would give our city some character like the new Gaslight Alley. Do something beautiful, not utilitarian. I am really not enamored with the Harborview building and all its glass. Clearwater needs some class and glass won't do the trick.
With an inviting smile, Robert A.M. Stern's design for Clearwater's new main library speaks to me: "Welcome, come in. You'll love how I support outstanding library service in very creative ways. Please feel free to roam and admire all the details. My west windows enhance the best view in Clearwater. Just wait until you see sunsets here! Notice how I reflect the best in some of downtown's older buildings, but celebrate the city's present and especially its future. People will come downtown just to visit me. Their children and grandchildren will love my programs and remember me all their lives."
Re: Proposed main library design.
The style is not something people will come to see as a signature building. The roof is too extreme, the "ship" awning out of place, too many windows will cause glare and heat. It reminds me of a prison with a guard tower.
All floors should be on the same level for the handicapped and ease in getting around.
This is not Disney or Brooklyn. This is Clearwater, Fla., a small city with appreciation for the arts also. It should speak to the public in a stately, welcoming way, not glitzy or extreme. Is this the Midas touch? Back to the drawing board, please.
We are the second-densest county in the USA. Our density created a water crisis. It also created a fishery crisis. Our fishery has declined 50 percent because we pollute our estuary, Tampa Bay. Each time we turn on the air conditioner, power plants have to burn things to make electricity and nitrogen goes up their smokestacks and then falls back down into our Tampa Bay, killing seagrasses.
We need to learn how to become more energy-efficient. Where better to learn than at the library? I hope the Clearwater Library will be energy-efficient. Since our relationship to the sun is quite different from New York's, I hope New York architect Robert A.M. Stern will get help from the Florida Solar Energy Center and from Florida architects who specialize in energy-efficient design. It costs no more, and saves money in the long run. There may be matching grants available.
I hope Clearwater will be proactive and use this opportunity to help save our fishery.
I do not wish to rain on the parade of previous writers commenting on the ugly design for Clearwater's new main library and their suggestion that the committee in charge should have taken a good look at Sarasota's new Selby Library, but, back on Aug. 4, 1998, I wrote to City Manager Mike Roberto, Mayor Rita Garvey and commissioners stating those exact words.
On Aug. 21, 1998, I received a reply from Mayor Garvey in which she and the commissioners stated their decision was with the noted architect Robert A.M. Stern.
Lil Cromer, a guest columnist in the St. Petersburg Times on April 16, 1999, also extolled the state-of-the-art, beautiful building of the Selby Library.
Won't the city and library committee please reconsider the present plans and change them to a beautiful, well-designed library that people will admire for years to come? What is this mania to have a building surrounded by windows from floor to ceiling? It produces nothing but heat, glare and extra air-conditioning cost.
Go to Clearwater Beach to view the Gulf -- not a library. I strongly urge revision of Mr. Stern's "warehouse shed" to an outstanding Selby-type library.
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