Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 2009 edition - At the Library


The WPA [Works Progress Administration, renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939] was good to Bernal Heights. It provided much-needed construction jobs which created the Aztec Street steps, the grading and paving of Bernal Heights Blvd, and the St. Mary’s Park playground. But most importantly, the excavating, grading and wall-building of the Bernal Recreation Center’s field and playground literally paved the way for the construction of our jewel in the crown: the Bernal Heights Branch Library.

A second New Deal of sorts, in the name of the Branch Library Improvement Program, has been employing tradespeople all over San Francisco for the past several years. It’s interesting how today’s economic reality parallels that earlier era and once again the building of civic structures symbolizes hope for people.

In our neighborhood CDX Builders, a San Francisco company, were awarded the job and their crew has been steadily working on the renovation. Their effort is bringing architect Andrew Maloney’s vision to life.

Andy works with the Library Design Studio of the City’s Bureau of Architecture and his design is an intelligent and thoughtfully elegant response to the original building, which was designed by the well known and significant local architect Frederick H. Meyer. The renovation, as the original building, will clearly stand the test of time. Andy understands the bones of the building and is honoring them through his work. Our dusty architectural gem is being improved through his careful lead and the crew’s steady effort.

The interior workmanship is of superior quality: wood veneers painstakingly matched through careful refinishing, thoughtful use of tiling and flooring and creative use of lighting and ceiling finishes. The Beaux Arts staircase seamlessly dovetails with existing walls. The entire newly installed lower floor, which houses the public restrooms, children’s, meeting, and staff rooms has detailing which is fully integrated with the upper —not an easy feat—considering it was once a basement.

The front exterior façade now provides an access ramp which is gracefully sculpted to include public seating. There are new lighting fixtures which echo nearby streetlamps and the era of the original building. And a small veranda facing the corner provides a comfortable place for neighbors to converse and watch passersby. The south façade incorporates a second access ramp into the Children’s Room which does not intrude upon the architectural lines of the building.

Valerie and I have had the privilege of regular sneak-peaks of the work in order to snap photos for the blog. As you enter the dusty zone, you’ll first encounter the cacophony of accents and languages of the crew. Their common language is that of the builder’s and their focus is on skill and craft. They cannot wait to show off the finished product and are flattered and proud every time they hear us ooohing and ahhing over the transformation of the building. They really appreciate working with Andy, whose attention to detail and demanding standards are setting a high bar but teaching them a lot.

I remember my first experience of the building very well. I went to look at the library back in 2001 before my interview for the job. Even in its shabby state I could see a grand and lovely building and I knew that it would be a privilege to spend my days in such a space.

January is fast approaching and that means the long-awaited Grand Opening of the renovated Bernal Heights Library is near. You are all cordially invited. We look forward to announcing the exact date and time very soon.

Lisa Dunseth, Branch Manager

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It has been a while since we've posted new photos and we are overdue! So many exciting things are going on inside, and it is time to give you a visual update. Our wonderful architect Andrew Maloney said the other day "You haven't seen anything yet!" Well, from what I've seen so far, it will be nothing short of astonishing. We of the Bernal community are going to have a neighborhood hub that will be enjoyed by many generations to come. Follow the link below to for a sneak peek.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Everyone's been asking..."What's up with the roof tiles!?!" Well, here they are, in place and looking great. As the construction progresses, it's becoming apparent we have a beautiful library on the way. The interior finishes are starting to appear, and they look terrific.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pictured, hallway leading to new Children’s Room.

Tiles are appearing along the bench outside, and reappearing where they used to be on the roof – lots of little changes are taking place both inside and out. Wood working, plastering, and even some color is beginning to appear downstairs. You will be pleased when you see it. So hang tight, we’re almost there.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Open shut them, branch after branch...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May Movie! Enjoy the show.
And just in case you intended to purchase a library tile, but haven't, the deadline is fast approaching-- going, going gone?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Construction is moving along at 500 Cortland Avenue! You might not notice much when walking by the library. However, inside the walls are going up and insulation is being installed. We'll be grateful for this work on winter afternoons. Also, the new stairwell going down to the first floor is being plastered. Thanks to the design considerations of our architect, this new addition will meld nicely with the original walls. Stay tuned! Pictures of the newly sealed walls will be forthcoming.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New beacons for the neighborhood’s original beacon—the library. The library construction has passed its one year mark and we are well on our way to completion. The crucial drainage and foundation work is done—and should ensure that we stay snug and dry inside despite the winter rains. Outside, beautiful lampposts have made a stately appearance on the front plaza signaling a vibrant new space in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Been One Year Since We Closed!--the work is progressing on schedule and the downstairs is taking shape. Here's a view of the stairway...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boy did we have fun last Saturday celebrating Chinese New Year! What a huge crowd and a beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saturday January 17th at 10:30.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year (Year of the Ox) with a Chinese lion dance and martial art performance. For children of all ages. The performance will be held directly behind the library.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

HAPPY 2009 FROM THE STAFF OF BERNAL BRANCH LIBRARY! Please come ring in the Year of Ox as we wish for continued success with our renovation. The Chinese Lion Dancers will perform behind Bernal Branch Library on Saturday, January 17 at 10:30 a.m. In the meantime enjoy a small slide show of the construction that is currently taking place at the library.