Hyattsville officials and community members celebrated the 50th anniversary of the city’s library even as the future look of the site remains uncertain.
A revamp of the building has been in the works since 1988, but the long-awaited effort has been delayed yet again after Prince George’s County officials opted to restart the proposal process.
Requests for proposals are expected to be sent out to the 10 architects on contract by the end of the week, said Jack Sloan, associate director of Prince George’s County’s Office of Central Services. Sloan said the search for a new architect could be narrowed down by early April.
At a community meeting in August 2013, architectural firm Beltsville-based Grimm + Parker announced plans to demolish the old library and replace it with a new, state-of-the-art facility.
“Right after that, the county ... went back and decided to solicit other architects on the list to provide concepts for a proposal,” said Kathleen Teaze, director of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. “We’ve been waiting for a new architect since then.”
Sloan said Grimm + Parker will have an opportunity to submit a proposal along with other firms.
The building has been in the Capital Improvement Projects budget since 1988, but it was changed from a renovation and expansion to a rebuilding project two years ago, because of the age of the building, said Michael Gannon, PGCMLS associate director for support services.
At the August meeting, several residents requested the building, or at least the iconic flying 20-foot flying saucer in front of the main entrance, be preserved.
“The way it came up, the decision to tear down the library without any notice, took me by surprise. It took most people by surprise,” said T. Carter Ross of the community group Save Our Saucer (S.O.S.).
Sunday’s celebration highlighted the library’s 50-year history, with history displays, music, face painting, arts and crafts and a giant birthday card to the library that visitors could sign.
Melissa Holo, a graduate student with the University of Maryland, College Park’s historic preservation program, said the library was the first of its kind in the county, built with a $1 million bond bill.
Suzi Madden Padgett, daughter of the original architect, Dennis Madden, said the 20-foot saucer of steel, granite and glass represented America’s aspirations during the 1960s.
“From what I remember about my father talking about it, it was really about the Space Race and at the same time, something that was really functional,” Padgett said. “My sister Sally remembers him drawing the saucer on the dining room table.”
Ross said S.O.S. is comprised of members of the community who like the building, and who are interested in preserving its history and architecture.
“The more I’ve learned about the history of this building, the more impressed I am,” Ross said. “This library marked the beginning of a new era.”