Student helps design city library addition

The Keene Public Library is planning on bringing in more resources, opportunities, and space by connecting and renovating the Heberton Hall building next door. Keene State College senior, architecture student Connor Bell helped design the model for the construction of the add-on.

Bell said, “I knew I wanted to be an architect my freshman year of high school.” He tried applying to top architect schools, and after only getting accepted to one, he decided to come to KSC.

“At first I didn’t want to come to Keene [State], but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me,” Bell said

Angelique Inchierca / Photo Editor

Angelique Inchierca / Photo Editor

He added, “The program has a sense of everything and touches on different points.”

Bell said a lot of school programs focus specifically on one field or area of architecture, where at KSC the program dives into all different aspects.

Bell said his real interest is in historical buildings. “Going to cities and seeing history is my thing, I love the old buildings,” Bell said. He added one of the reasons he took the project for the library was because of the historical building add-on.

“My love for model making comes from my grandfather,” Bell said how model making is beginning to fade away from architecture with the advancements in technology. “I think models are important because computer generated models don’t show a person what the building actually looks like,” Bell said. “There’s more technology now and a lot of people don’t want to take the time in making a model, because it does take a long time to complete.”

Recently Bell was approached by the Keene Public Library and was asked if he could work on a model project for a future add-on.

The Head of Youth and Community Service at the library, Gail Zachariah commented on the future add-on.

“People use libraries in different ways than they used to, and we wanted to have this add-on to bring in more people who want to use the library,” Zachariah said. “A lot of people from the community use our rooms for meetings, and more people kept wanting rooms, but we just didn’t have enough.”

Zachariah said the library bought the Library Annex (the former Heberton Hall) building a few years ago. The building was built back in 1858. Zachariah said a lot of the infrastructure of the building needs work.

The first proposal for the add-on was at the city council meeting on Dec. 5, 2013. “We planning on starting construction in November,” Zachariah said. “And the project should be completed by October of 2018.”

George Scott was also approached and asked if he wanted to build the model for the add-on. Scott has a mechanical engineering degree from Princeton University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard University and is also a woodworker. Scott has done previous model projects on Keene Community Ice Arena and the Keene YMCA.

“Nancy Vincent, the library director, approached me and asked if I could make a model for the new add-on to the library.” Scott said he didn’t realize how difficult this project was going to be and decided he needed more help. “I needed someone who had experience making models with older buildings and I was introduced to Connor,” said Scott.

Scott said, “Connor had such a busy schedule that we usually worked at different times, but we were able to operate smoothly.”

Bell said the library project took over 500 hours to complete. “It became my child, I cared a lot about this project,” Bell said.

Bell said at times it was stressful managing between school and other projects, but was able to make it all work out. “George helped me stay on track and was a really good asset to that project,” Bell said.

Bell plans on getting his master’s degree in architecture, but with more of a focus in historical restoration and adaptive reuse. “Taking a historical building and turning them into something that wasn’t meant for their original use, but making it more effective in the environment that it is in now,” Bell said. “A building’s environment is constantly changing but that doesn’t mean the building has to change itself.”

Matt Kahlman can be contacted at mkahlman@kscequinox.com

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