Proposals are in for new Woodstock Library

Proposals submitted by (from l-r): Argus Architecture & Preservation, Stephen Tilly and Ashokan Architecture & Planning.

The three architects chosen as finalists presented to library trustees and the public their proposals for a new Woodstock Library facility with cost projections ranging from about $4.9 million to $7.2  million. About 40 people attended at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center on August 25 to watch the presentations.

Though the designs were different, all three honored the many pleas to preserve the front lawn. All were two-story structures, given the constraints of the parcel and the programming requirements that guided their design. All featured the latest in building technology, such as geothermal heating and air conditioning.


The three finalists were Ashokan Architecture & Planning of Kingston, Argus Architecture & Preservation of Troy and Stephen Tilly, Architect of Dobbs Ferry.

Ashokan Architecture is known locally for the 53-unit Woodstock Commons housing complex and the planned Irish Cultural Center in Kingston.

Argus Architecture’s library projects have been adaptive reuses, including an old D&H train station in Altamont and the Wells Community Library in Upper Jay, N.Y.

Stephen Tilly is known for his restoration work on the Maverick Concert Hall and he designed the Irvington-on-Hudson Library. He also worked on the Chappaqua Library.

Ashokan Architecture & Planning

Principal Architect Brad Will presented a design that featured a large, two-story glass belfry tower for its entrance to let in ample daylight. He says an atrium lets in a lot of light and can be used as a reading room, providing natural warmth in the winter and serving as a cool place to read in the summer with the aid of treated glass surfaces.

A winter garden highlights an 1812 facade with a deck that faces the lawn. A bump-out would house the space now used in the book barn for book sales.

A post-and-beam structure would allow the library the freedom to change its layout in the future. 

Will said the interior is laid out like a “street” in the middle with various functions, such as a computer area, conference rooms, stacks and presentation rooms on either side.

“We’re keeping it as open as possible,” Will said.

An after-hours exit is included on the side of the building and interior doors can be locked to control access. This is a feature requested by library officials because of the way access is now handled. All three architects included this feature. Groups who currently meet after the library is closed are given a key to the front door and there is no way to limit access to only certain parts of the library.

The heating an cooling in Ashokan Architecture’s proposal is geothermal, where fluid is pumped underground in a closed-loop system, allowing it to maintain a constant temperature. The fluid is heated to room temperature in the winter months or can cool the building in the summer.

Building Committee Chair Jill Fisher expressed concern about the underground nature of the geothermal system, given the high water table and flooding problems already experienced in the basement. Her concerns were answered by pointing out that such a system is a closed loop and there is no basement in the proposal.

Ashokan Architecture provided a first-floor layout with a 1750-square-foot children’s area prominently at the front, as requested by the library, but Will said he sees problems with that option. He prefers entering through an entrance tower at the corner.

“We’re not sure it’s the best placement,” Will said.

Ashokan Architecture’s proposal, as presented, is over the trustees’ stated goal of $5 million, given the total space of about 14,400 square feet. Will estimated cost per square foot in the “high 400s.” That is due mostly in part to a state law requiring prevailing wages and union labor. Given the size, the cost could reach $7.2 million.

Will noted the added cost can be offset through the yearly energy savings realized by the geothermal HVAC system, efficient windows and a large solar array on the roof.

Argus Architecture & Preservation

Principal Architect Janet Null, who is a preservationist, said saving the current library is just not an option. “The overriding reason why you need a new building is functional.” she said. “I’ve been doing preservation work for 45 years and my first instinct is to preserve. This building? No. The library is not a house even if it started out as a house.”

She said children are increasingly a prime constituency, yet younger children, especially toddlers, aren’t adequately served. Story-time space is on the second floor and not handicapped accessible. Null complimented the Friends of the Library for renovating the children’s area and creating a teen space, but said the reality is it’s only 65 square feet.

Demonstrating that each library is unique and she did her research, Null eschewed the current trend of compact stacks, which are shelves that roll flat against each other when not in use to save space.

Null said compact shelving does not save that much space with Woodstock’s collection and its patrons prefer to browse physical books instead of choosing from a catalog and having a library clerk bring them the book.

Argus’ design gives a nod to area architecture with a clapboard exterior, including some bluestone and wood. It pays homage to the 1812 ell by moving the entire wing to the front facing Library Lane. A stone plaza brings patrons to the entrance and opens into the front lawn.


Given high prevailing construction wages, Argus’ proposal is for a smaller, 13,500-square-foot building with 10,670 net square feet. 

Null set more reasonable expectations by noting the building could be even smaller than proposed. “We can trim 1500 square feet out of this building without sacrificing the programming…Probably another 1000 square feet.”

She also noted, given shading, there is not enough roof surface to generate all the needed energy.

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get some,” she said.

Steven Tilly, Architect

Taking queues from area barns, Tilly’s proposal is for a two-story grange-like building with a spine that runs the length of the roof and serves to let in natural light.

The entrance is through a beveled corner with large windows on the second story that let in as much light as possible.

After walking through the vestibule, patrons can move to the left into the 1800-square-foot children’s area. Unique from the other two proposals is Tilly’s incorporation of the 1812 ell inside the building. The open, barn-inspired structure allows for high ceilings to make that possible. The ell serves as a story room in his proposal.

The first floor houses a large circulation desk, stacks, a presentation room, conference room and storage for Friends of the Library and the Library Fair.

A large, spiral staircase opens into the second floor, which houses more stacks, an art book room, a maker space, classrooms, a media lab, a teen room and staff office spaces.

Unlike the other architects, Tilly provided an animation in which one could virtually walk through the library and experience the floor plan.

Tilly’s design focuses heavily on sustainable materials, harvesting the wood from trees on the front lawn that have been identified as being in danger.

The building is supported by large laminated wood trusses that are manufactured in New York and use Forest Service Council certified wood. The concrete for the slab can be sourced from Rosendale cement, Tilly said.

Strategically placed windows can harvest as much daylight as possible while keeping the building tight for maximum efficiency. Rainwater can be harvested and reused.

Tilly’s design provides enough roof space to fit the amount of solar panels needed to generate the building’s electricity needs.

Tilly’s estimate was the lowest at $4.8 million for a 14,990-square-foot building. Tilly noted there are some economies built into an open truss building. Once the trusses are ready to be placed, a crane can lower them into position one after another, he said.

Tilly’s firm used a third-party cost estimator to come up with his figures, though some were skeptical of the figures.

Next steps

Trustees, guided by input from architectural consultant Stephanie Bayard of Pratt Instititute, met in closed session Saturday following the presentations to compare notes. No decisions were made.

Trustees will hold a Public Be Heard session Thursday, September 13 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 76 Tinker Street, to hear more comment about the proposals. The board plans to further discuss the choices in closed session on September 17, then choose an architect at its September 20 meeting, which is open to the public. No contracts will be signed that night.

The architects’ models are on display in the Art Books room at the library, renderings and descriptions are online at A locked box is available at the library to submit feedback on the designs.

Library budget vote is set

Voters on September 6 will elect two trustees and decide on a proposed $641,744 Woodstock Library budget that includes being open on Mondays, for a total of six days a week. The election will be held noon-9 p.m. Thursday, September 6 at the Woodstock Library, 5 Library Lane. 

Three candidates are running for the two available seats on the Board of Trustees. Incumbents Elaine Hammond and Tamara Katzowitz are running for re-election to five-year terms and Kevin Kraft is running for the first time.

Trustees are running under the cloud of a November 6 referendum to dissolve the library district as required by a successful petition drive organized by opponents to the way trustees are managing options for library construction.

Elaine Hammond, a retired nurse and Woodstock resident since 1981, has served on the board for 10 years. She is married to former Woodstock Elementary School teacher Bill Kronenberg. She has two children, three stepchildren and many grandchildren.

Hammond is excited about Monday hours at the library. “That was my dream to serve the community more,” she said.

Hammond was not present for the January vote to replace the library building, but said she was for renovation. “I thought it was better to repair the front and build onto the back,” Hammond said. She said it’s important to stay on the board to communicate that opinion. “If I didn’t stay, there’d be no voice of dissent,” she said.

Hammond said she will support whatever she feels is best for the library after carefully reviewing the architects’ proposals. “I’m not wedded to any one idea,” she said.

Tamara (Tammy) Katzowitz, a retired educator and adjunct professor, was first elected to the board in 2016. She is running for her second term. Katzowitz has a Master’s in Library Science from SUNY Albany and has lived in Woodstock for 38 years. She serves as the board liaison to the Friends of the Library.

Katzowitz, who voted for new library construction, said she will vote for the architect who proposes what she feels is best for the library and community.

Kevin Kraft, an ordained interfaith minister, is executive director of the Lifebridge Sanctuary, a retreat and conference center in Rosendale. Kraft was unavailable for comment in time for publication.

The budget

This year’s $641,744 spending plan is $22,826.50, or 3.69 percent more than the current year, but a projected increase in contributions from the Friends of the Library keeps the tax levy at $585,544, an increase of 1.5 percent.

In addition to part-time staffing for Monday hours, the budget includes 2 percent raises to keep hourly staff in line with future minimum wage increases.

The budget does not include any funding for the proposed library reconstruction, as that would comes from separate capital accounts, a potential bond issue, and will be the subject of a large fundraising campaign.

If the budget does not pass, the library will not be open on Mondays and there will be no raises and no additional funds for materials or maintenance.

The election and budget vote is September 6 from noon to 9 p.m. in the library. All registered Woodstock voters are eligible to vote. Absentee ballots are available at the library.