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Sugar House Journal

Design teams hold meetings to gain community feedback about Sprague renovations

Aug 29, 2018 15h34 ● By Jana Klopsch

Margaret Sullivan talks with local neighbors about why they enjoy the Sprague Library. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)

By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected]

If there’s one word that continually comes about with regards to Sugar House’s Sprague Library, it is “community.” 

When a space utilization survey for the library branch was sent out earlier this year to residents, that word was common. Neighborhood residents love their community and feel the Sprague is a bedrock piece of that. With the impending closure of the library for major renovations, City Library staff and the design team and architects involved held two community meetings on Aug. 9. These meetings provided an opportunity for Sprague patrons to hear more about what might be in store and offer feedback. 

“I’m curious to see how much of the history they’ll retain,” Sugar House resident Madeleine Sigman-Grant said before the first meeting started. “It’s just such a beautiful place.” 

She moved to Salt Lake City two years ago from Las Vegas and frequents the Sprague Library most weeks. “I don’t know where we’re going to go, or whether they’ll try to put up a store-front space,” Sigman-Grant said. “We sure appreciate the fact they are even inviting the community into look at what they’re planning.” 

Arch Nexus and Margaret Sullivan Studio are the two architecture and design firms that will be spearheading the project set to begin in the spring of next year. Both companies bring decades of experience to the table. 

“We will sit on our hands before hearing back from the community more,” Margaret Sullivan said in her presentation. “We know libraries can be the emotional and physical center of a neighborhood and bring a real sensitivity to that.” 

Sullivan and her team of designers and visionaries have been helping renovate libraries for 20 years. They have redesigned beloved spaces across the country and are excited to bring their experience to the Sprague project. 

“This is considered a ‘high touch’ location,” Sullivan said. “Where relationships are valued. It’s a tiny but mighty space. We feel we can do a lot with the 12,000 square feet.”

Some of the projects the firms have completed over the years were shown at the meeting, and attendees were asked to reflect on what they love about the library. Each shared stories centered around how much they value the building and the people who work there and how long they’ve been visiting. One resident used to bring her son to story time every week since he was an infant and said the library became a big part of their relationship. Her son, now 17, recently scored a high score of 36 in reading on the ACT test.

While the actual design plans have yet to begin, the space utilization survey and these community meetings serve as instrumental parts of the process. The designers and architects have laid out a foundation of what they know the community wants to see in the new Sprague. 

“Libraries like this were built for reading rooms,” Sullivan said. “But how do we make it contemporary? We want it to be a Swiss Army knife for activity and resources and really maximize utilization.” 

Some of the future-Sprague’s features will seek to create more hangout space and more meeting space. More study rooms and a bigger area for teens and pre-teens will be factored in. Much better lighting and a good audio system will be installed. All modernized details and contemporary upgrades will happen within the adored historical structure of the library. The firms involved know how much people want the charm and character of the old English Tudor style building to remain. 

The designers now go to their drawing boards to begin shaping final renovation plans. The Sprague will remain open until the spring of next year. City Library staff is busy looking for potential temporary spaces to house some of the collections, even if it’s a storefront pop-up setting. They hope to obtain something close to the current location. 

“Sugarmont would be great,” City Library Executive Director Peter Bromberg said, referring to the old Deseret Industries building at 2234 S. Highland Dr. “The Bicycle Center will be in there until at least March though, so that probably won’t work. We’re looking at a lot of different possible options in the area though.” 

Sugar House residents can check for continual updates on the renovation project. Additional online resources will be released as the project gets closer to starting.