As Trail council readies to hire an architect for the Riverfront Centre this week, Barbara Gibson reflects on the long road to this moment.
“It’s quite emotional to think after all this work that it’s actually going to happen,” Gibson, board chair of the Trail and District Public Library, told the Trail Times. “It’s a big step and one we have been waiting for, for a long, long time.”
Twenty-one proposals were whittled down to one by the project’s steering committee, which includes Gibson, Jamie Forbes from the Trail Historical Society and three Trail councillors.
Stantec, a world-wide consulting firm with offices across B.C. and Canada, was selected as the architectural prime consultant and awarded a $402,000 contract to develop detailed plans and final design of the new library/museum.
The decision was not made lightly, says Gibson, clarifying collaboration between city council, the historical society and library was key in coming to a consensus.
“I was thrilled with the level of interest, and as a group, we went through the architects’ proposals,” she explained. “My choice was based on two things – did the proposal contain a library consultant on staff and was there an exhibit consultant designer on staff, for the museum.”
Overall, the committee reviewed each applicant’s experience with relevant library and museum projects, methodology and approach to the final product, and of course, fees.
“Everyone was heard and dollar value did come in to it,” Gibson continued. “But you don’t just walk into a big space anymore, throw up a bunch of books and call it a library.
“It has to have a specific design, and in the last 10 years , libraries have gone through the most dramatic change in their purpose from the previous centuries,” she added.
“We’ve gone from just books, to becoming the living room of the community – and we needed a designer who could do that.”
Another facet to hiring a large firm such as Stantec, is the company’s ability to do all work “in-house” says Gibson.
Stantec has worked world wide, and has inner departments to complete electrical and mechanical engineering services, which she maintains allow the architect more control over each project.
“After everyone in the committee came to agreement, as part of the process we spoke to the people who were listed as the library consultant and exhibit designer,” she said.
“We had conference calls the following day and met with the prime architect who flew in from Vancouver on about an hour’s notice.”
As the project inches toward breaking ground sometime this year, Gibson is certain about one thing.
“The dream is coming true,” she said. “I think with the architect and design team we have it’s going to be a pretty amazing building.”