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New Wellington County library will blend old with new

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by Angela Gismondi

Ontario’s new Hillsburgh Library currently under construction in Wellington County will fuse a century home with a state-of-the-art library building all while preserving the historical property in a rural area.
The new Hillsburgh Library in Wellington County, Ont. will incorporate a heritage home with a new build to provide modern library services on a historic property in a rural area. The $3.1-million, 10,000-square-foot library is expected to be complete in June 2018. +VG Architects is the prime consultant on the project. Devlan Construction Ltd. is the contractor; the structural consultant is Tacoma Engineers; the mechanical consultant is Neeb Engineering; and the electrical consultant is Rombald Inc.
The new Hillsburgh Library in Wellington County, Ont. will incorporate a heritage home with a new build to provide modern library services on a historic property in a rural area. The $3.1-million, 10,000-square-foot library is expected to be complete in June 2018. +VG Architects is the prime consultant on the project. Devlan Construction Ltd. is the contractor; the structural consultant is Tacoma Engineers; the mechanical consultant is Neeb Engineering; and the electrical consultant is Rombald Inc. - Photo: WELLINGTON COUNTY

"The design incorporates the existing historical homestead by enveloping it within the new construction," stated Paul Sapounzi, managing partner at the Ventin Group (+VG Architects) in an email to the Daily Commercial News.

The library site is located at 9 Station St. on lands that surround the historic Mill Pond.

Wellington County purchased the property in the fall of 2015 with the intent to build a new library. The grounds include the 1892 farmhouse, the pond and the adjacent property. The new library will replace the current branch located on Trafalgar Road in the Town of Erin, which is currently being leased.

"The unique thing is we're blending the historic house with a new building and one will complement the other," said Murray McCabe, chief librarian for Wellington County, adding the wood panelling on the building will match closely with the historic house and the new part of the building will not be visible from the road. "When we see something of heritage value, we try to work with that and certainly this is a pretty unique home in a unique setting and there was room for a library."

The new $3.1-million, 10,000-square-foot Hillsburgh Library is expected to be complete in June 2018.

As the prime consultant, +VG Architects was responsible for the planning, collaborative design, contract documents, tender review and contract administration.

The county retained +VG Architects because of their experience with heritage work.

"We brought them in and looked at the site and it was totally feasible to add onto that building while still protecting the outside shell of it," explained McCabe.

"Right now the house has been gutted. I was in with a contractor the other day to see about putting in a mobile (in the children's area) because the second floor will be taken out of the house and we'll have almost an atrium."

Devlan Construction Ltd. of Guelph was selected as the contractor in April. The structural consultant is Tacoma Engineers; the mechanical consultant is Neeb Engineering; and the electrical consultant is Rombald Inc.

The older part of the new library will house the children's area and the newer part will have an adult area with mobile shelving to provide a space that can be used for larger functions, with glass windows overlooking the pond and the property.

The bottom floor will offer a community kitchen and a meeting room with a walkout to the grounds. The entire building will be fully accessible.

One of the main challenges with the development of the site has been the location of the flood line.

"Given the relatively flat property adjacent to a large body of water, the flood line encroached well into the depth of the property which left little space for development," explained Sapounzi. "This obstacle was overcome through careful placement of the finished floor elevation as well as creative grading and the implementation of retaining walls.

"Through regrading and provision of retaining walls, the flood line was relocated such that it would allow the development of this project."

Andrew Anderson, business development manager at Devlan Construction, said due to the age of the original building, shoring and remediation work was necessary. In addition, the site is not municipally serviced which means there will be a septic bed and a well on the property for water and sewer.

"This has some components that make it different from a complete new build," explained Anderson.

"It did need a little bit of tweaking for the original structure to bring it up to code and current regulations. The biggest challenges are dealing with anything that comes up because of unforeseen circumstances in the original building, but they are challenges that are being dealt with in a very professional and collaborative way."

McCabe explained the new library is a great way to finish off 14 library projects that have been completed in the county since 2000.

"The county has invested a lot of time and effort into these libraries and it's nice to end with another significant project like this," said McCabe.

"People are really looking forward to having a new library in Hillsburgh and on such a special and historic site. It's going to be a tremendous community hub, which is what public libraries are all about now.

"It's going to be a destination for not only library users but visitors to the Town of Erin and Wellington County."

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