A renaissance of the former Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse site in north Scottsdale has begun, with designs for a new library unveiled last week and upcoming hearings on plans for the $225 million Silverstone subdivision.
The new Appaloosa Library would be situated centrally on the square, 160-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak roads. Officials chose the location because of the absence of a convenient library in the north, said Rita Hamilton, director of Scottsdale Public Libraries.
“We don’t have a library in far north Scottsdale,” she said. “By 2010, the population that would be served by this library is about 60,000 people.”
Many north Scottsdale residents have a significant drive if they want to visit one of the southerly libraries, she said.
City officials unveiled de- signs for the Appaloosa Library, a 20,000-square-foot structure on about four acres, at an open house Thursday. DWL Architects + Planners and Douglas Sydnor Architect and Associates, working jointly, arrived at the current designs after 25 to 30 iterations, Doug Sydnor said.
“We wanted to come together to offer a new vision for contemporary Southwest architecture in north Scottsdale,” he said. “We’ve been through quite an evolutionary process.”
Sydnor said visitors will enter through a “compressed” entrance, which gradually opens up into windowed panoramas.
“The metaphor is about moving from darkness into the light,” he said. “It’s all about the learning process and literally becoming enlightened.”
The building incorporates glazed windows, copper siding and concrete walls intended to mimic the color palette of the desert, he said.
“It’s a balancing act to do something for the 21st century, and yet it’s rooted in a desert setting with a warm southwest approach,” Sydnor said.
The rooftop won’t be parallel to the ground, but rather will be slanted, rising to about 36 feet at its highest, he said.
Linda Butson, the city’s project manager, said there will be additional public hearings on the library throughout the summer and fall, and a final design is expected by December. Construction could start in April 2008. The project still needs a permit from the City Council and its design will need the approval of the Development Review Board, Butson said.
“We are right at the very infant stages of design. We’ll be opening in two years,” she said. “The plan is to have a collection of 100,000 library materials, and that is a mixture of books and electronic media.”
The library will have public computers with Internet connections as well as wireless Internet access, and will feature a children’s section and an area for teens.
“It’s uniquely tailored for teens so that they’ll be comfortable,” Butson said.
Sydnor said other features include a possible patio area, a demonstration garden and a café/newsroom.
“It will be an opportunity to go outdoors and read a book and enjoy the weather,” he said.
Officials hope to replant the site with native vegetation and to shade the parking lot with trees. The land was scarred over the years by heavy use at Rawhide and the removal of structures after the faux Western town was sold to the Gila River Indian Community and moved to Wild Horse Pass, near Chandler.
“We’re trying to restore the desert landscape. We’re trying to heal the site,” Sydnor said.
Voters approved $10.3 million for the library in the 2000 bond election. In December, the City Council agreed to put $1.5 million toward buying books for the new library. The buy will be funded by interest earnings on bonds issued in 2000 for parks and libraries.
Meanwhile, plans for the surrounding Silverstone development are moving forward in phases, said city planning spokeswoman Robin Meinhart. The Development Review Board plans to consider some landscaping and roadway designs on July 12.
Silverstone representatives have said the subdivision would have nearly 1,000 homes, including a luxury senior living center, restaurants and shops, a park in and adjacent to Rawhide Wash; and a fire station. Silverstone is expected to be completed in late 2008 or early 2009.