ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Within a projected timeline of two years, the new Rockford Public Library will stand again on its former lot on N. Wyman Street in downtown Rockford.
The library was demolished after the ground upon which it sat was classified as unsafe, due to residual chemicals present from an industrial facility which occupied the plot many years ago.
On Wednesday, crews broke ground for the new construction project.
“This is not a very easy project, by any means,” said Jennifer Spencer, an architect with Studio GWA. “They are not wasting any time to get started, so we’re really excited to see this, but at the same time, there’s so much to do.”
Studio GWA also contributed to the redesign of the current Prairie Street Brewing Company, 200 Prairie Street.
“We started working with the library back in 2014, and it’s been a really long haul,” Spencer said. “We started with the community engagement services and the relocation of the temporary library.”
Studio GWA and Engberg Anderson Architects collaborated on the project. Engberg Anderson’s Shaun Kelly said working together was a seamless process for the two firms.
“Studio GWA and Engberg Anderson kind of split the project in half,” he said. “We focus mainly on the library and the planning portion, because that’s what we’re an expert in. They really focused on community engagement. It was a collaboration of the exterior between the two companies.”
The companies are also working on another major project next door, the Library Loft apartments.
“The first floor [will have] more of a commercial feel, restaurants, and five floors of residential apartments above,” Spencer said.
She said, when the two projects are completed, they will signal a new chapter for Rockford.
“I’m…excited for people to see the glass and the river when they actually walk through the building. We haven’t had that for years, in what was the old library, so there’s so much we hope people will experience soon,” Spencer said.
Architects at Studio GWA say they’re also working on additional projects in the downtown area.