Created By: Just Places Lab
Corner of Cayuga and Court Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
In 1965, Tompkins County acquired the corner of Cayuga and Court Street. A new building was constructed, and it served as home to the Tompkins County Public Library for many years until a new library was built on Green Street in 2000. The building was then a Community Justice Center and records storage for some time. In 2013, the County began exploring the future of the site.
A series of proposals went through a consultation and review process that involved Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca commissions, including the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission, a design review board, and the Planning Board. Some Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commissioners favored the adaptive reuse of the old library building. A conceptual design was proposed by Franklin Properties, MCK Building Associates, STREAM Collaborative, Taitem Engineering, and Dr. Marne O'Shae, MD, in 2014. Instead, Tompkins County decided on a redevelopment plan that involved demolishing the building and replacing it with a completely new construction.
The old library building was demolished over a period of six to eight weeks in 2018. The property was sold to Travis Hyde Properties in 2017, who announced the construction of Library Place, a senior housing project that would include 67 units in addition to other amenities. Despite the use of a mister to suppress dust, the demolition produced toxic materials that spread to nearby neighborhoods. An adaptive reuse option would have contained materials in place, keeping residents inside and outside of the building safe. It also would have limited the production of embodied greenhouse gasses and the need for a large volume of new construction materials during construction. Making the old Tompkins County Library building an adaptive reuse project could have been a visual reminder of the past that lived long into the future.
Read more about the demolition of the old library with this story map
See the conceptual design for the adaptive reuse of the old library here.
Information compiled by the activist group 'Toxic Targeting.' Read about how they campaigned for asbestos clean-up ahead of the demolition here.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Waste(d) Imagination Tour