Joco 913

Vacant grocery to be transformed into sparkling new library in eastern Olathe

Besides giving the old grocery store a modern look, aluminum pieces above the entry will screen the interior of the library from the western sun.
Besides giving the old grocery store a modern look, aluminum pieces above the entry will screen the interior of the library from the western sun. City of Olathe

By the fall of next year, a vacant Hy-Vee grocery in eastern Olathe will be transformed into a new library that promises to be a community gathering spot, as well as a traditional place to check out books and videos.

Want coffee and a snack? Stop into the little cafe.

Play video games after school? Space has been set aside for teenagers to do that, or if they prefer, record their latest garage-band song.

Inventors will have access to creative software, 3D printers and laser cutters. Community groups will find plenty of meeting space, too.

And if the kids get restless? Take them to the children’s reading garden or the new city park right outside.

“Today’s libraries are community places and spaces for people to gather and do a variety of things,” said Emily Baker, director of the Olathe Public Library. “There’s just going to be a lot to enjoy here.”

Olathe’s new Indian Creek Library will sparkle with glass and natural light.

“The fundamental challenge of the project was the creation of day-lit, 21st century library spaces within a retail structure,” said Sean Zaudke, associate principal at the local Gould Evans architectural firm. “The existing building was surrounded by asphalt and had very little daylight, especially in the center.”

To brighten the dim interior, the design team introduced “clerestory” spaces – with high windows to admit light – and also cut a courtyard into the center of the building.

Gould Evans and the San Francisco-based Group 4 architectural firm collaborated on the programming and design of the new library at 16100 W. 135th St., near Brougham Drive. McCownGordon Construction of Kansas City offered input as well.

At close to 48,000 square feet, the $19 million library will be four times the size of the flood-damaged building it will replace.

The city closed its original Indian Creek location, 12990 S. Black Bob Road, in March 2016 after a water line ruptured under the building, flooding the library and damaging its foundation.

Even before the flood, library officials were exploring how to enhance programming and modernize both the downtown and Indian Creek locations.

“We were very limited at the old Indian Creek,” Baker said.

But in light of the heavy water damage, the city opted to relocate rather than expand the Indian Creek branch and bought the Hy-Vee store two years ago.

Since September 2016, the library has been operating temporarily in a storefront at at Santa Fe Street and Mur-Len Road.

Groundbreaking is expected this summer after a contractor is selected for the library project. The budget includes $14 million for construction, $2.3 million for fixtures, furniture and equipment and $2.7 million for soft costs and contingencies.

Perhaps the most striking feature will be the entrance on the west side.

“The facade will feature varying finishes of aluminum that are inspired by nature and will function as a sun shade for the interior spaces,” said Zaudke of Gould Evans. “The exterior of the building will change throughout the day and seasons, allowing it to evolve as the city of Olathe evolves.”

Once inside, visitors will see many of the library’s basic functions in a long central hallway or backbone of the library, called the Marketplace. Those include the main desk, computers and laptops, a self-checkout area and a display of new materials.

Other amenities are placed on either side of the Marketplace.

On the left, from front to back, will be the coffee bar and a commons for group study or meetings; some study rooms and the maker space for creators and inventors; a large adult area with books and periodicals; and a flexible indoor courtyard with a fireplace and a view through glass to the outdoor courtyard.

The children’s area, with space for crafts and other activities, will be in the back.

Among the amenities on the right, starting at the front, visitors will see a large event space that can be rented; the board room and a used bookstore run by the Friends of the Olathe Public Library; the large teen space with the recording studio and video games, and more meeting/study areas.

Library offices are on the southern edge of the building, and the city plans to use extra space in the grocery store for other purposes.

“The building itself is going to be phenomenal,” Baker said.