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Design Updates to the ECC

Updated: May 2, 2023

This fall, ECO has been working with the architecture firm, GBBN, on the final design of the Etna Center for Community and Rivertown Library - Etna Branch. GBBN is a firm with a wide breadth of experience in library design, having worked with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on several renovation projects, such as the Beechview Library. ECO's building committee consists of architects, construction managers, and community members who have worked hand in hand with the design team to ensure that the physical space meets the needs of the community. Nora Peters, the executive director of the Millvale Community Library, has also been an integral part of the process guiding the design team through the day to day operations and function of the library space.

Exterior Facade

ECC design rendering by GBBN Architects

The building that will be the site of the Etna Center for Community was built in the 1800s by the Ochse Family. It was originally a grocery and supply store and was crafted with all of the intricate and beautiful details one attributes that era. Our goal has always been to restore the historic charm of the building while also bringing it into the modern era. The final design of the facade will attempt to restore the original brick which has been painted over, and will rebuild the stunning original windows, but this time with energy efficiency in mind. The storefront will have a modern touch, with blue metal encasing floor to ceiling windows looking into the library space. The left side of the building will have the main entrance and vestibule, where community members can access information or return materials 24/7. The right doorway is a private entrance for residents of the four rental units housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

ECC design rendering by GBBN Architects

This new facade will blend into the existing streetscape and offer seating and bicycle parking. The existing awning will be replaced with an artfully designed one that mimics a tree canopy.

Interior Space

The layout of the library space has been configured for maximum openness and functionality. The center staircase in the existing building is being relocated to allow for an open floor plan. Walking in through the front door, library patrons will be able to see all the way through to the back of the space and onto Locust Street. This will bring an abundance of natural light into the rooms. The circulation desk will be centered in the space to give librarians easy access and sight lines to the Welcome Room, Maker Space, and the large-scale new addition, which we're calling Greenhouse Hall.

Because this space is playing double-duty, much of the great room will have flexible furniture. This means that during regular library hours, the room will have sections for reading, using the computer, and a children's space. When the space is being used for large-scale community events or meetings, it can be rearranged to provide the best layout for everyone's needs. The Greenhouse hall will also have a storage room, an office, and a flexible meeting space for patrons to access.

ECC design rendering by GBBN Architects

The new addition gets its name from the vast glass facade that will look out over a plant-filled courtyard, Locust Street, and First Congregational Church. The roof of the new addition is inverted to collect rainwater, which will be highlighted in a playful way with decorative downspouts. The roof also coincidentally looks like an open book, which is pretty perfect for a community library. The courtyard will be completely permeable and provide greenery and outdoor seating. The space will also help to activate the street outside, which is connected to First Congregational and just down the block from the community garden.

In the beginning of 2023, the final design, construction documents, and building permits for this project will be in hand making the ECC a shovel ready project. We are hopeful that this will build the momentum we need to quickly reach our fundraising goals. If fully funded, the timeline for the construction of the property is projected to be 9 months. We are thrilled to have made so much progress in making this community asset a reality. This will be a space in the heart of our community that will be created and maintained for the people of Etna for generations to come.

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