Saturday marked the reopening of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Beechview location after being closed for nearly a year for extensive renovations.
Before Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, community members were invited to join CLP managers, board of trustee members, donors and organizers for a preview celebration of the facility.
And now Audrey Iacone, who has been the manager of the Beechview library for nearly 15 years, can’t wait to see the positive outcomes that result from the renovations.
“It’s going to be a landmark in the community, the jewel in the crown,” she says. “Everyone who has come in already has been enormously pleased and just delighted with their new library.”
The original building saw almost no change since its construction in 1967. Before the renovations, it didn’t offer a view of Beechview’s Broadway Avenue and lack of space was a constant issue.
Now the facility is fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for natural light to radiate throughout the building. There are fully revamped children’s sections, a new media lab, two separate floors that are ADA-accessible and plenty of space to promote community engagement.
Amanda Markovic of GBBN architects helped design the renovations completed by Volpatt Construction. She explained that one of the main goals was to make the library visible upon approach, while completely opening up the interior space. The urban views out front and the foliage in the back make for a dynamic space to learn and relax. The gabled roof and brick exterior mimic the residential area in which the library is located.
As a member of the CLP board of trustees on the facilities committee, Alice Mitinger recommended changes and oversaw aspects of the redesigns throughout the renovation process.
“It’s really so delightful to be able to see something that had been dark and not usable be really transformed into a site where you can see the natural light and the natural aesthetic and usable spaces for kids.”
State Senator Wayne Fontana, a Beechview native, spoke to attendees about the importance of libraries in communities and how exciting it is to see his hometown thriving once again. Mary Anne Coyne, who has lived in Beechview her entire life, echoed the state senator’s sentiments.
“I think that this means everything to this community. We were so distressed when there were plans to close it,” she says. “We fought really hard with the help of a lot of other people and we are so thrilled with this.”