Manitou Springs is one step closer to fulfilling long-planned upgrades and remodels to its historic Carnegie Library building after choosing an architectural firm to engineer and design the changes to the more than century-old facility.
Of seven firms who submitted proposals, the city on Tuesday formally selected Ratio Architects LLC — headquartered in Indianapolis with an office in Denver — to develop library design alternatives and engineering and construction designs for the building.
“I think this is a project that we all look forward to,” Manitou Mayor John Graham told city planners and members of the resident group Preserve and Renew Our Carnegie Library Task Force during a work session last week.
The city’s selection team chose Ratio Architects based on the firm’s “broad experience in historical and modern library updates, renovations, expansions and new builds; specialized library understanding and experience; and demonstrated strong understanding of the Manitou Springs Carnegie Library building,” planning documents state.
Ratio Architects has completed various library projects in Colorado, a corporate brochure shows. They include construction of the Pikes Peak Library District’s High Prairie Branch Library in Falcon, the Lyons Community Library in Lyons, the Green Valley Ranch Library in Denver and the Carbondale Branch Library in Carbondale, among others.
Funded by 19th-century steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Manitou Springs’ original Carnegie Library building opened in February 1911. It is one of 30 Carnegie buildings constructed in Colorado, about 18 of which still operate as libraries, project documents state. In January 2013, the library joined the Pikes Peak Library District.
But library operations were halted and moved from the building following a civil rights complaint filed in March 2020 because the historic building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. Library services are now open in the Manitou Art Center.
Elevators, accessible parking spaces and restrooms are among some of the changes needed to the building to ensure accessibility, Graham previously told The Gazette.
Project documents also state the building’s footprint “has not grown to meet the needs of expanded patronage.” The city’s population has grown from about 1,300 residents in 1911 to more than 5,000 today.
The city has long hoped to upgrade the building, but Graham previously said funding for a library remodel has been a challenge for the community.
The city’s agreement with Ratio Architects states the consultant will develop up to three design options for the building, located at 701 Manitou Avenue, that build upon prior design concepts and inputs approved by the city’s Historic Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and endorsed by a previous city council.
The current council and city planners will review those options during a work session tentatively scheduled for July 13, according to project documents. The firm will then integrate feedback on the plans to design one option it will present to the council for final approval.
Finalized drawings, cost estimates and other documents are expected to be completed Nov. 19, according to an anticipated project timeline.
Manitou Springs has tagged about $300,000 for the project, which came through a bequest and donations. A voter-approved 0.3% sales tax to fund arts, culture and heritage could also help generate between $130,000 to $135,000 for the library over the next 15 years, The Gazette previously reported.