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Sarasota County Libraries Director Sarabeth Kalajian and Harvard Jolly Architect Amy Weber stand outside of the new Gulf Gate Library, which is 80% complete. Photos by Jessica Salmond
Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014 6 years ago

VIDEO: Gulf Gate Library designed to feel like home

by: Jessica Salmond Staff Writer

With construction nearing completion, the modern, yet warm, style of the new Gulf Gate Library is beginning to take shape in its unfinished interior.

The outside of the 25,920-square-foot building is complete; now, construction and electrical crews are painting the walls and running wire through the building.

After almost a year of construction, the building is set to be finished by November, and the library is slated to open to the public by late January, said Sarabeth Kalajian, director of Sarasota County Libraries. Construction for the library cost $7.69 million.

The library design focuses on natural lighting with big open walls of windows and a warm, comfortable feel with a combination of wood and brick design. The library’s interior was designed to foster a living-space atmosphere, Kalajian said.

“We’re going for a modern craftsmen design,” said Amy Weber, architect with Harvard Jolly Architects of Sarasota. “It’s a great feeling.”

Because many of the library resources are now electronic, Kalajian said, with e-books, music downloads and audio recordings being some of the library system’s most popular items, additional shelving is not needed in the new library. But there will still be plenty of printed books for the more traditional patron. Two gardens will welcome the public to experience the library outside, and there’s even space for a possible café.

The two floors house different areas: a children’s room, technology lab and living-space area with seating on the first floor, and a Teen Center complete with a video gaming area and study rooms on the second.

The Teen Center on the second floor of the library is painted with bright colors like blue and raspberry, per the recommendation of the teen advisory board. The rug will be a bright color to match.

“I like the angles and the way the spaces come together,” Kalajian said. “We think it’s coming along really well.”

Even though the library is under construction, it hasn’t checked out of its book-lending duties: Since the demolition of the original building, a smaller version of the library has been operating out of a space in the Sarasota Square Mall. It moved to its temporary location in February 2013. The county spent $138,000 for a 25-month lease with the mall.

“We’ve certainly appreciated having the experience of being in the mall setting,” Kalajian said. “It’s been a perfect location, not far from the previous building.”

The location has attracted some new users to the library.

“We hope they will follow us back to the new library,” she said.

The original 12,000-square-foot building on Curtiss Avenue opened in December 1983. The old building could not fit the growing needs of the community, which used it as a library and a public meeting space, Kalajian said. The old building lacked a sufficient meeting room — the small space could only hold about 10 people. With input from the community, the new library was designed with its needs in mind, with amenities such as a children’s area, an expanded technology center, a drive-through book return and additional parking.

“The day that we cut the ribbon is going to be a grand day,” Kalajian said.


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