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Uptown's Walker Library to come up for air with $7 million rebuild

After nearly 30 years below ground, Walker Library in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood is getting ready to surface with a new $7 million building.

"A library that is highly visible" is the stated desire of a citizens advisory committee that issued a vision statement for a replacement structure earlier this year.

That will be a big change from the current, almost entirely subterranean library building at Hennepin and Lagoon avenues, where in lieu of a visible library at street level, person-sized steel letters spell out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y.

Envisioned is an above-ground building that announces itself as "Uptown's library, with a strong daytime and nighttime street presence." Designers don't have to look far to find an example of such a structure: the original Walker Library is still standing, just across the street.

Hennepin County's Designer Selection Committee has recommended an architect from among the 21 firms that responded to a request for proposals issued last spring, says Lois Lenroot-Ernt, capital projects manager for Hennepin County Library. The firm's name remains under wraps, however, until county commissioners act on the recommendation, perhaps this month or next.

Designer selection doesn't immediately lead to library construction in every case. A new building in north Minneapolis to replace Webber Park Library is on hold until the county acquires a site.

The county allocated more than $1 million in its 2010 budget to acquire land at a new Uptown site for the Walker library as well, but the RFP is for a $7 million structure to be built on the current site.

Source: Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Hennepin County Library
Writer: Chris Steller

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