FIRST LOOK: RATIO Architects unveil plans for new Downtown Winston-Salem Library

by Daniel Schere

RATIO Architects, Inc., an award winning Raleigh-based architecture firm, has unveiled the new plans for the central library in Downtown Winston-Salem. The project will cost roughly $20 million.

Deputy County Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt told WFDD earlier, “Some of those things are green elements, one building and not two, which is what currently exists. There’s also lots of windows and transparency in the building, and things like a cafe and so forth. These are elements that people indicated that they wanted to see in the Forsyth County Central Library.”

In a press conference presentation to the Forsyth County Commissioners held Thursday at the Forsyth County Government Chamber, Jesse Green revealed the renderings (see above) for the new library. He also said the new building will have added green space and more public event space. Green also said that the second floor will have a specific area for teens, and the third floor will have views of Pilot Mountain. There will also be a cafe, an auditorium, and a reading garden. The auditorium will seat approximately 308 people.

The new library will also be updating its technology by offering e-readers and digital versions of books, which may lessen the physical stock in the library.

Green also described the updated tech offerings as a “technology petting zoo.”

He went on to explain that the parking underneath will be retained from the old building and they will not be creating additional parking.

Rendering of a spiral rainwater run-off created by RATIO architects.

The library has been closed for renovations since October 15 with a scheduled reopening some time in 2017. Most services have moved into the Forsyth County Government Center, including the computer lab and North Carolina Room, located on the first and second floors, respectively. While it is closed, Sunday hours are being added at the Malloy/Jordan East Winston Heritage Center, Southside Branch Library and Reynolda Manor Branch locations.

In addition, Forsyth County library is a member of the NC Cardinal library consortium, which houses between four million and five million volumes from 18 libraries across the state. It offers interlibrary loans for residents who request a book not in their system, and Dwiggins said this will help offset the loss of some books only available at Central Library.

Although the central library is currently closed, the employees were offered positions at the surrounding libraries.