All the planning, debate, construction and weather delays will be worth the time invested when the renovated Cleo Rogers Memorial Library plaza is dedicated Friday.
The library, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei and opened in 1969, has been one of the city’s architectural gems. Its plaza, home to artist Henry Moore’s “Large Arch” and many musical festivals over the years, has been an entertainment hot spot.
Freshening the plaza’s appearance, fixing decades of wear and tear and addressing modern needs — while holding true to Pei’s original design — will make it an even better cultural venue.
Hiring Miami-based classical hip-hop group Black Violin to perform a concert at the dedication fits well with the leading-edge design and renovation. However, it’s the changes to the plaza that will allow for it to have a long-term role as a prominent site for outdoor entertainment.
Improvements include new lighting and electrical access. Previously, electricity had to be pulled from inside the library, and it wasn’t enough to support performances with lighting or sound.
A courtyard was created between the library and Columbus Area Visitors Center. It features new benches, wireless Internet access, shade trees and electrical access for mobile devices. A “Modern Totem” sculpture has been installed there. These additions are likely to make the plaza area a great place for people to gather and relax.
Additionally, the renovation includes new granite stairs and a wider handicap-accessible entrance.
Plans for this project started more than two years ago, and the process included substantial debate and public feedback about whether the renovation should maintain the look of the plaza from when it opened 45 years ago.
Thankfully, it does.
And when the renovated plaza is dedicated Friday, Columbus residents will benefit from a space that is fresh and special — and still an integral part of the city landscape.