The Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees have selected Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects to design the new Pine Bluff library building.
The trustees chose the Little Rock-based Polk Stanley Wilcox from among 12 architectural firms who submitted requests for qualifications to design the new library building.
“This is a great thing that is going to happen,” interim library director Taylor Eubank said. “We’ve got a chance for the Pine Bluff library to be transformative architecture.”
Eubank said the library trustees are also getting Pine Bluff architect Fred Reed in this package with Polk Stanley Wilcox. He said Polk Stanley Wilcox designed the Hillary Clinton Learning Center in Little Rock, the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, the Arkansas Studies Institute and the Conway Library.
“This company seemed to be a good fit,” Eubank said.
Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library Board president Tommy Brown said the library trustees will negotiate with Polk Stanley Wilcox to see if they can arrive at a mutually acceptable contractual agreement for a cost of services. They would then enter into a contract.
“If we cannot agree, then we move to the next architectural firm,” Brown said. “I am 90 percent sure we will make an agreement with Polk Stanley Wilcox. Our negotiations will not take place overnight. We want to move with all due haste. We want a new library as promptly as possible for the betterment of our community.”
These developments come after voters approved a 3.0-mill tax increase to raise $14 million in November 2016 to construct a new library building in Pine Bluff and renovate four Jefferson County library buildings. The library board has already signed an agreement with Main Street Development LLC to spend $385,000 to buy 618 Main St. for a new facility.
Fred Reed, the president of Reed Architectural Firm, said they will set up public meetings to ask citizens for their input regarding the new library building in downtown Pine Bluff as well as the existing libraries in the Watson Chapel neighborhood of Pine Bluff, White Hall, Altheimer and Redfield.
Reed wants to ask Jefferson County residents to share their needs in library buildings and services in order to incorporate their needs in designing spaces.
“We are local so we have the input to help and we have the connections with the city,” Reed said of being headquartered in Pine Bluff. “We have a community center being built. We have to keep those other projects in mind so we do not duplicate services. I am right here in helping with that.”
The selection of the architect comes more than one month after then-library director Laura Whitehead gave a report about 12 architectural firms who submitted requests for qualifications to design the new library building.
At a June 29 meeting, Whitehead recommended the library board choose either Memphis, Tennessee-based Allen & Hoshall of Arkansas or Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects. Whitehead said she chose those companies based on their requests for qualifications and that both companies sent representatives to tour the current Pine Bluff library and the future Pine Bluff library site.
Whitehead judged the firms based on their experience and technical competence regarding the type of professional services required; the firms’ proximity to and familiarity with the area in which the project is located; their records of performance regarding control of costs, quality of work, and ability to meet schedules and deadlines; and capacity and capability of the firm to perform the work in question including specialized services, within the time limitation fixed for the completion of the project.