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Archive for Wednesday, August 26, 1998

LATEST ARTS CENTER DESIGN AWAITS CRITICS

August 26, 1998

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Architects unveiled the latest plans for renovating and expanding the Lawrence Arts Center, which is located in a former library listed as a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

The playbill for a renovated and expanded Lawrence Arts Center is done. Now it's time for the reviews.

Architects unveiled detailed schematic drawings Tuesday morning for the project, which would quadruple the size of the center's existing home inside the city's former Carnegie Library, 200 W. Ninth.

The Mayor's Arts Center Advisory Committee endorsed the design, and now officials must wait to see what the public thinks. The plans could go to Lawrence city commissioners for endorsement sometime during the next couple weeks, in time to make the deadline for a Sept. 24 meeting of the city's Historic Resources Commission.

After more than 10 years in the works, city and arts center officials are looking forward to getting the show on the road.

``My hope is that the community can embrace it,'' said Karmen Huyser, president of the arts center's board of directors. ``And that the community will feel good about what we're doing to preserve the Carnegie Library and at the same time what we're doing to meet the needs of the Lawrence Arts Center.

``I hope we can get the support.''

David Dunfield, project architect for Glenn Livingood Penzler Architects, said the project -- as designed -- was poised to meet its official project budget of $5.625 million, of which $3.625 million is a set-in-stone tab of tax dollars approved by commissioners. The rest would come from donations, grants and other sources secured by the center.

Center officials long have envisioned a $5.8 million project and already have secured $1.5 million in outside financing.

What the money would buy is a mixture of preservation and expansion -- expressed through new windows in the library, plus a brick, limestone and stucco exterior for the addition -- that Dunfield described as a ``hard-nosed'' approach toward building design. His team of architects worked with center officials to design combined activity spaces, shrink the building's footprint and otherwise reconfigure features so that the project's previous $7.2 million price tag could be reduced.

Tuesday's reviews -- from committee members, center officials and commissioners alike -- came back in the thumbs-up column:

  • Ann Evans, the center's director: ``We're really pleased. We think that the tightening up has just made it better.''
  • David Longhurst, committee member and president of Downtown Lawrence Inc.: ``It's made it more friendly with the neighborhood. ... You guys have done a great job.''
  • Mayor Marty Kennedy: ``I think it's a great design ... and the costs look good at this time.''

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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