Main Library Renovation Set to Proceed with Design Review Committee Approval

Main Library Renovation View from Wick Avenue

Main Library Renovation View from Wick Avenue

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (May 5, 2020) –The Youngstown Zoning Department Design Review Committee today unanimously approved a request from the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (PLYMC) for site work, paving the way for the Main Library renovation to begin.

Bostwick Design Partnership submitted to the Design Review Committee a presentation on the project, which is the result of a year’s work with the library team headed by Executive Director Aimee Fifarek.

Ms. Fifarek said, “With a building project like this the challenge is always about how to honor the past while making a statement about the future.” This Andrew Carnegie library opened in 1910. The building has undergone two major renovations in its 109 years. A renovation in 1954 removed the front stairs and period lampposts from the face of the building on Wick Avenue and these will be recreated with this project. The second renovation, dedicated in 1996, included a large addition to the building and relocated the entrance to the side of the original structure.

Paul Hagman, RBF CoLab historical restoration architect, discussed the historical restoration of the original entryway which will include granite steps and bronze doors on the building’s front, facing Wick Avenue.

The renovated Main Library will also include some new or enhanced features, including a 6,000 square-foot addition which compliments the building and will house an events space and culinary literacy space, and adjacent outdoor terrace. The existing building will bring back a large children’s space, add a makerspace and recording studio, add study rooms which have been popular in other branches, and enhance space for public access computers.

Rick Ortmeyer of Bostwick Design Partnership, noted, “Main library was originally designed using high quality materials, and shaped to provide light-filled, functional spaces. These design elements are timeless, and by employing these fundamental concepts across the entire renovation and expansion, the experience will remain consistent throughout while allowing each element to maintain a unique identity.”

Ortmeyer said, “Each part of the project – the restoration of the original Reuben McMillan Free Library, the modern expansion, the new urban garden setting along Wick Avenue – is truly special. The combination of these elements together is a rare and remarkable gift to the community.”

“We didn’t anticipate COVID-19 when we set out to design this building a year ago,” Ms. Fifarek said, “But the design was created with flexible spaces and more room for people, which allows us sufficient spacing for situations such as social distancing.”

Ortmeyer noted that flexibility in the spaces is important, especially now. “This library will be well-positioned to support evolving community needs over time. The project is investing in 21st century technology infrastructure, and flexibility is enabled by spaces designed for mobility – from the expansion’s fully reconfigurable raised floor to movable furniture and display shelving.”

The Library has had the Main Library renovation in its strategic plan for many years and, with good fiscal management, funds have been set aside to pay for this project without incurring debt and the resulting interest charges. Dr. David Ritchie, Library Trustee President Trustee president throughout the long process of saving for and creating this vision for an updated library, is gratified to see the project taking shape. “We recognize the significance of this building being a Carnegie library with over 100 years of history,” Dr. Ritchie said. “We believe this renovation will honor that history and yet provide for the technologies and needs of libraries today.”

“This construction project will create economic growth and opportunities for the community and the building trades,” Ms. Fifarek noted. The project is estimated at $25 million. Construction is expected to begin in August, with completion in the spring of 2022. The team of the AMHigley Company of Cleveland and Dawn Incorporated of Warren will serve as Construction Manager at Risk.

“We remain grateful to the Library’s Board of Trustees for their faith in our team, and for this remarkable opportunity to reimagine the Main Library. We are also inspired by the collaborative spirit and guidance of the library’s extraordinary project team led by Aimee Fifarek,” said Ortmeyer.

Working on the project are:

  • Bostwick Design Partnership of Cleveland, architects with Rick Ortmeyer, David Hogue and Emily Carr
  • RBF CoLab and Paul Hagman, collaborating architect restoration design
  • CT Consultants, civil engineer
  • Nancy Lonnett-Roman and Heather Fuller, landscape architects, Pashek + MTR
  • AMHigley Company of Cleveland and Dawn Incorporated of Warren, Construction Manager at Risk

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For images and additional information, see presentation pdfs below and go to

Main Library Renovation -Presentation to Youngstown Zoning Design Review Committee: PART ONE – pdf »

Main Library Renovation -Presentation to Youngstown Zoning Design Review Committee: PART TWO – pdf »

Main Library Renovation -Presentation to Youngstown Zoning Design Review Committee: PART THREE – pdf »