Hershey Public Library Hershey, PA

The idea for this project began with the 2017 appointment of a new director, Laura O’Grady, who sensed that the 20-year-old facility no longer aligned with the way patrons and staff envisioned its importance as a center for their community. Successful 21st century libraries are more than just book warehouses.

Reducing the stacks/book storage, creating a dedicated children’s library area and private teen space with stronger acoustic separation from the adult areas, reworking the circulation desk area and moving staff office adjacent to it, and providing improved ADA access to the building, were all essential program requirements.

A new family entrance on Cocoa Avenue leading to the children’s area also improved access for those with mobility issues. The reading garden area beside the entrance’s canopy has been unexpectedly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

GBE provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services for the project. The mechanical scope of work involved full HVAC load calculations; verification that existing equipment would support the renovation; minor design changes to the return air system; specification of new diffusers, including two that would fit, hidden, within wood slat ceilings and linear diffusers for large open areas. Plumbing was minimal and relegated to reviewing stormwater leaders and two pipes within the building that needed relocation.

Power renovations relocated wall outlets and floor boxes and removed floor boxes and circuits where the raised floor system was eliminated. Lighting design featured new fixtures to integrate with the wood slat ceilings, general lighting replacement, and accent lighting. For the building exterior, we specified the fixtures for the new entrance canopy and accent lighting for the hardscape area beneath it.

The project, designed by Chris Dawson Architect, garnered an award for design excellence in 2020 from AIA Central Pennsylvania.

Photography by Anela Bence Selkowitz