City approves design firm for library project

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Malibu City Council members on Monday night took a step closer to breaking ground on the Library Design Services project by voting to authorize the negotiation for an agreement with architectural consultant firm LPA, Inc. for the first $98,900 phase of the project.

The city will also amend the budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year to include the $98,900, the total amount of LPA’s bid for construction, but it will be reimbursed by Los Angeles County, which will use funds it has set aside from property taxes intended for library services, which total $3.6 million.

The library renovation project is the result of an uproar that took place in 2004 when it was discovered that nearly a half million dollars Malibu had been paying in taxes per year was not being spent on services in this city, but was going to other areas of the county’s library system. Soon afterward, the county agreed to spend those tax dollars within the city.

Upon completion of the project’s first phase, LPA will present the city with estimated costs for the remaining two phases of renovation and reconfiguration based on a building program outlined in the 2005 Community Library Needs Assessment. The firm will handle design services from schematic plans through construction, and has designed more than 20 public libraries, including some within Los Angeles County.

Referred to as “one of the leading architectural firms in sustainable development” by city Administrative Services Director Reva Feldman, the firm integrates environmentally friendly features, such as solar lighting, in many of its designs. Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said he hopes the construction process will help set standards for future city developments.

Richard D’Amato, principal of LPA, Inc., delivered a presentation before the council that provided a wide scope of various design options that could be implemented in the renovation of the Malibu Library.

He stressed the importance of uniformity between Malibu Library and Legacy Park, having the two complement each other as indoor and outdoor learning spaces by infusing the construction of both projects with elements of the city’s rich history and unique characteristics.

Resident Linda Gibbs suggested the entrance to the library be changed from its current location, next to the courthouse, to the side that faces Legacy Park.

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich liked Gibbs’s idea, and suggested the implementation of teleconferencing technology and heightened library security.

The city chose LPA, Inc. out of 42 different firms that responded in December to the city’s request for design proposals for the remodeling of Malibu Library, which was built and established in 1970 by Los Angeles County. Aside from minimal changes to its interior design, the library has physically remained unchanged since it was built.

A city report states that several public meetings will be held in the future to integrate the needs and input of the community into the final library design.