Main Library Master Plan

January 8, 2018 | By: Communications Staff

St. Joseph County Public Library is pleased to announce Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) as our selection to complete work on a Master Plan for the redevelopment of the Main Library Block in downtown South Bend.  SJCPL partnered with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County and the city of South Bend to consider four firms before making the decision. Qualifications contributing to the decision include RAMSA’s stellar reputation, 48-year industry experience, and impressive portfolio of urban design projects.

RAMSA will begin with an assessment of the Main Library Block during the third week of February and will submit the final Master Plan in April 2018. Their work will include conceptual design studies to analyze the possibilities for expanding the Main Library and redeveloping the Library Block. The completed Master Plan will address overall site and building organization, site parking location and access, and other issues affecting construction on the block.  RAMSA will use the following as guiding principles for their work:

  • Create value and a distinct quality of place
  • Promote walkable urbanism
  • Integrate public and private civic spaces
  • Connect the Library to the community
  • Draw upon the rich historical precedent of the block and region
  • Explore new building configurations to create variety in downtown South Bend

RAMSA is highly qualified in the area of library design. They have completed public libraries of similar size and scope to the Main Library in Jacksonville, Clearwater, and Miami Beach, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Georgia; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Lakewood, Ohio; Bangor, Maine; and Calabasas, California. Their work locally includes the University of Notre Dame Stayer Center for Executive Education at the Mendoza College of Business.

The firm is considered an international industry leader with numerous design awards, including the National Honors Award of the American Institute of Architects.

SJCPL Executive Director Debra Futa states, “the Library is excited to be teamed with one of the nation’s leading design firms for the critical phase of reimagining the Library Block in order to understand how various partners and components could work together to create a lively gathering place. The 3.2 acres of the Library Block has the potential to host a variety of partners that would make the south end of the central business district a downtown destination.”

In March 2017, the SJCPL sought the services of library consultants Kim Bolen and Associates to provide an assessment of future facility needs. In September 2017, they completed a report identifying the need to reconfigure and expand the current 116,500 square foot Main Library to accommodate approximately 20,000 additional square feet.

In November 2017, SJCPL chose Scott Ford, from the Bradley Company and newly named vice-president of new business development at the University of Notre Dame, to serve as the Library’s representative in the Master Plan process.  

Ford’s Request for Qualification was made to four major firms with a January 9 due date. Of the contenders, RAMSA presented a portfolio of work unparalleled in its depth, breadth, and scope. The selection was further solidified by their project proposal, which best met the Library’s needs. RAMSA will bring a level of expertise that will make the Library Block a leading example of innovative urban design.  SJCPL, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the City of South Bend are highly confident and enthusiastically supportive of RAMSA’s ability to create a visionary Master Plan.

For more information about RAMSA, please visit their website.

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