Integration at heart of Riverfront Centre planning

The goal with creating the new Riverfront Centre began with creating a lasting legacy with ageless appeal.

Central to a really great page turner is an interesting and timeless character.

And that’s the story when it comes to the new Riverfront Centre in Trail – the goal being, to create a lasting legacy with plenty of appeal no matter the user’s age.

So planning the city’s two-story library/museum had a few twists and turns along the way, and it’s nowhere near an end.

A few things are certain, however.

The spaces will intertwine, meaning one floor will not be just for books and the other strictly museum archives – end use will integrate both features on each floor and the top story will be accessible by elevator or staircase.

“What you want to do today is provide a meeting area where ideas flow, where people can mix and interact,” says Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni.

As the city’s appointee to the library board, Cacchioni has long advocated for a new Trail and District Public Library locale. Now chair of the Riverfront Centre (Building) Committee, he updated the Trail Times on the project’s progress, which involves representatives from the library board and historical society collaborating with a project manager from MMM Group and a group of architects from Stantec.

“A lot of the exhibits are going to be interactive and even hands on within the library, so the museum and library are going to complement each other, ” Cacchioni explained.

To describe the duality, he gave the example of a future museum exhibit designed around early transportation in Trail.

“The library would then have materials available to complement it,” he explained. “So you would move through the space like a mirror, one side library, the other side museum – in terms of providing information and excitement for what you are looking at.”

Integrating the floor plan saves  a tremendous amount of space and money, added Cacchioni.

The library/museum footprint, originally designed to be 15,000-square feet, shrunk in December when cost estimates came in $3.7 million above the project’s $6.3 million budget.

“We’ve had four days of workshops that have taken a look at everything,” he said. “How the library/museum can be laid out, where specific areas for children and adults are going to be, the lighting, the interior and exterior design – we’ve looked at it all and made decisions based on making it as comfortable as possible for everyone coming in.”

At this point, schematics have been drawn but the architects still have to finalize a conceptual design.

“Once we have it all laid out, we will be putting the plan out for the public to have a look and comment,” said Cacchioni.

“We’ve really taken a lot of time and effort and spent a lot of money trying to make sure this thing is right,” he continued. “What I can say, is the community can look forward to a building specifically designed around the needs and wants of the people in Trail and this area, reflecting the personalities and people in the library board and people in the historical society.

“So we have something that is integrated and is going to be useful looking 20 or 30 years down the road.”

Jamie Forbes, president of the Trail Historical Society, says the process of coming to a consensus has been intensive and multi-faceted.

“This is something that is new to all of us and different from anything I’ve been involved with,” Forbes said. “There’s the city, library and historical society, all these different players and everybody trying to get to a happy medium.

“There is a lot more work involved than straight forward designing a building for a specific purpose.”

Another factor to consider is day-to-day operations once the structure is in use, such as a designated area for the popular children’s programs, Forbes added.

“It is really important to go through this process as slowly as you can, recognizing you have to keep a schedule, but it is intense, that’s for sure,” he said. “These things are going to be with us for the next 30 or 40 years so it’s critical to make the right decisions now, because once it’s concrete, it’s a little hard going back.

“There is so much to think about and so much to cover.”

Kathryn Foley, the facility’s library director, acknowledged the original concept, which had the library on the second floor and museum on the main.

“We are looking at a more integrated concept that is going to free up space for us to be a hub of our community and social gathering place for people of all ages,” said Foley. “We want people to be excited about it, and we want there to be a ‘wow’ factor, so it be joined to our community and our community will want to be with us.”