White Plains Library NY Welcomes Visitors & Patrons to Read, Relax & Make Music Amongst the Wildlife
What was once a dreary slab of concrete outside of the White Plans Library is now barely recognizable following a $6 million capital improvement project to turn the library’s plaza into a calm, inviting open space – a green oasis in one of the busiest sections of the city.
The newly refurbished 68, 500 sq. ft. plaza beside the White Plains Library, situated between the Public Safety Building and the Westchester County Courthouse, now features elevated gardens, benches, trees, energy-efficient lighting, and outdoor musical instruments. The new plaza welcomes commuters, jurors, court workers, and library patrons to take a stroll and a breath of fresh air, somewhere to enjoy lunch and relax by playing a little music on the Bell Lyre, Pentatonic Symphony Freechimes, and Emperor Chimes.
The layout was designed by Consulting Engineers Group and IQ Landscape Architects who designed several outdoor rooms as an extension of the library and its resources. The meandering pathway of the reading grove is lined with seat walls so people can relax and enjoy a book in an atmosphere similar to a park while a central plaza creates an area for gatherings and events such as book fairs. A tensile structure near the garden will be utilized for future events, and features LED lights to illuminate the canopy in an array of colors.
With the changes the plaza has "turned into an inviting walkway surrounded by beautiful trees and ivy-covered landscape with seat walls along the walkway for people to sit and enjoy," said city Deputy Public Works Commissioner Stefania Mignone.
To create a sensory experience for young children, a "discovery garden", managed by the library, was created with a variety of plantings and objects that appeal to all five senses. There is an area allocated to 'touch' featuring lamb's ear plants, which are soft to feel. Lavender plants can be found in the 'smell' section; the 'taste' area features thyme and mint; in the 'sound' section visitors will hear ornamental grasses rustle in the wind and the Percussion Play instruments. In the area denoted to sight, there is a variety of ornamental trees, perennial flowers, and grasses to be viewed.
Karen Pasquale, senior advisor to White Plains Mayor Tom Roach told us “With the renovation project this space has been completely transformed. The city’s goal was to enhance this space so that the public, whether they were office workers from nearby buildings, patrons of the library, residents, members of the public, young or old, that anyone would feel welcome and comfortable here.”
Mayor Roach, who has been a patron of the library for over 30 years confirmed that the goal was to make the plaza “a space that is more than just functional,”. He went on to say “It brings warmth and humanity to this vacant space. What we have effectively done is bring a park to the middle of our downtown in an area where it wouldn’t have been thought possible, I’m very proud of our people for making that happen.”
“It is so great that this space has been re-envisioned,” Library Board of Trustees President Paul Schwarz said. “This was just a wasted space of barren, broken concrete.”
At the request of the customer, all the instruments were ‘bead-blasted’. Bead blasting results in a non-directional textured surface with a soft satin finish and low reflectivity. As this process can reduce corrosion resistance, we then electro-polished each instrument. Electro-polishing is a process that smooths the surface, improves the corrosion resistance and leaves the surface less susceptible to harboring contaminants while also making it easier to clean and maintain.
Many thanks to and IQ Landscape Architects who took all the photos used in this case study.