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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to break ground on $3.15M Hill District branch in April

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) has received approval to purchase five parcels of land from the URA for the construction of its new Hill District branch at the corner of Centre Ave. and Kirkpatrick St. The $3.15 million project marks the CLP’s first new library in the city in 27 years.

A groundbreaking ceremony is set for April 19th; construction of the 8,300 square-foot library is expected to take 12 months. “There’s a lot of growth along Centre; we want to serve as a community anchor for that development,” says Suzanne Thinnes with the CLP. “That corner gives us great visibility.”

Project architect Robert Pfaffmann facilitated public planning with library users, residents and community leaders. “As with every project, we start with an understanding of the place,” says Pfaffmann, who designed part of the library to resemble a commercial storefront for displaying books. “The community wanted the library to reflect the neighborhood’s history and also be modern,” says Thinnes. “The design is reminiscent of storefronts that thrived in the Hill.”

The energy efficient design incorporates a raised floor system, rain chains, recycled rebar and an urban bioswail. “The whole exterior is driven by light,” says Pfaffmann. “The glass enclosed reading room on the corner will be like an appendage with 270-degree views. You’ll see it like a lantern at night, coming up Centre.” Community greenspace will be created in a lot near Wylie Ave.

Designed on the site of a 1930s-era gas station, the library will include a teen lounge, gallery and reading room with café style seating. An inaugural exhibition will feature photographs by acclaimed Hill District native Charles “Teenie” Harris. Pfaffmann hopes to see the library’s surroundings become sites for community engagement, including transforming a billboard into outdoor art.

Writer: Jennifer Baron
Sources: Suzanne Thinnes; Robert Pfaffmann

Image courtesy of Pfaffmann and Associates and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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