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Posted on Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Ann Arbor library's Traverwood Branch to close for floor repair

By Cindy Heflin

The Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library will be closed for 10 days later this month for the refinishing of its wood floors.


The circulation desk and wood floors at the Traverwood District Library.

Ann Arbor District Library photo

The closing is scheduled from Feb. 12 to 23, but, in a post on the library’s website, Director Josie Parker said the branch could reopen sooner if the work goes well.

The floors, made from dead ash trees removed from the library building site, requires special care to maintain.

Parker wrote that finishes used to “adhere to standards that are in keeping with the sustainable principles used to build the building have not held up to the high traffic in that location.”

The floor requires repair, sanding and resealing, Parker wrote.

“We could simply throw all caution to the wind and finish the floor like a basketball court, but that seems shortsighted and unjustified.” The library will instead use a product “that meets our standards and is proven to hold up well in high traffic areas,” Parker wrote.

The repair is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $12,000, library officials said.

The library also had to close the branch two years ago for floor refinishing. The floors will still require annual maintenance, Parker wrote, but should not require extensive work after this repair.

The Traverwood Branch, opened in June 2008, has been hailed for its innovative and sustainable design. It won the won the American Institute of Architects Michigan Building Design Award in 2009. It was the subject of a Detroit Public Television documentary “Up From the Ashes.



Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

Traverwood is one ugly building with a lot of disfunctional areas that were not completely thought out before executing the plan.

say it plain

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 3:54 a.m.

I wish people would get specific about the "dysfunctional areas"?! I think it's got great nooks and crannies, and some lesser-numbered areas for larger groups I suppose, but to me what makes a library work are the nooks and crannies and not giant tables for a lot of loud talking/meetings. I think the area near the staff desk is a little bit dead-space-y, and the staff may feel a little isolated all the way over there, but I think even that space is quite functional...never feels crowded to me, good space near the self-serve checkouts, etc. Much better than the messy crowded areas near the checkout at Mallett's Creek branch, for instance.

say it plain

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

I love that library branch...I totally don't get the complaints about it being 'rusty' or 'tarnished' or ugly and 'weedy' lol. It's in a gorgeous spot, *natural* landscape as opposed to high-maintenance cultivated garden-y scene (better for upkeep costs, no?!), the light and design are great, and unless somehow the rust is going to cause structural issues, I have no problem with the colors of it! The flooring has never been an issue aesthetically or for comfort so far as I can tell, unlike the Mallett's Creek cork which got noticably warped underfoot. I do agree that it's silly to use wood floors that require extra maintenance, as nice an idea as it might have been to use the same ash trees from the site to make them. Those trees work gorgeously as they stand in the library itself though. I like the idea of wood floors rather than tile, but if "finishing them a basketball court" would make it less money for maintaining, then go right ahead! And I also agree that if there were a 'greenish' product that was available when the floors were initially installed that was better for high-traffic areas, then it should have been used in the first place; why not?!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

if my building were that rusty i would get a citation not an award.they should let it rust through then replace it wiyh pre rusted thinner metal so it will rust through faster.

John Q

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

The commenters attacking the library's use of wood salvaged from the library's site are probably the same clowns who cover up wood floors in home with cheap wall-to-wall carpeting and tear off wood siding to replace it with vinyl. All flooring in public spaces require maintenance. Rugs and similar material have to be constantly cleaned and eventually replaced because of wear and tear. But don't let the facts keep you from your petty tirades.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

John Q, I think the "clowns" are the ones who would use "special needs" wood in the FIRST place on an area that is only going to get screwed up and need a prohibitive amount of upkeep due to high traffic. I assume you, the intelligent one, would use brazilian teak on the sidewalk in front of your house? I can probably also assume that if I were using YOUR money to do MY house, you would have no problem with my using gold plate on the rooftop, which needed to be chemically bleached and cleaned every 2 years, and then replaced after 10, right? You know, instead of tar and shingles that the "clowns" use because, you know, it's the ROOF?!

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

Public places that are in high traffic areas where people track in a lot of water and slush and snow with grit embedded into it are better covered in cement or tile. The Michigan Union does a wonderful job. Cork, with many seams that water can attack is just a bad idea. Wood is wonderful, but in the home that I grew up in that had nice hard wood floors, Shoes would be off if they had been covered with snow encrusted boots. Can we expect patrons of the library to do so? No. The homeowner would have to care about the floor, the general public does not, even if 80% do, the other 20% is enough to ruin the floor. Think rental housing.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Polished concrete is a sustainable product with low low maintenance. put some throw rugs on it and call it a day


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Sometimes eating the granola is sooooo expensive and impractical. But when you're hooked on crunch granola sweet, its difficult to give it up.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

"Sustainable Design" is just a buzz word for; additional costs to install and additional costs to maintain.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Nothing says "sustainable" like unsustainable levels of maintenance. Yearly maintenance? Your tax dollars at work (not).


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

These are the types of things that are GLARING examples of your tax money being wasted by inept or corrupt people. Why would you build a public building with materials that REQUIRE "special care?!!" When they presented the public with the total dollars to be spent on this building, did they include the higher-than-usual maintenance costs for special needs materials? And is my definition of "sustainable" different from everyone else'e? How is it sustainable to have to refinish, at 12 grand a pop, the floors of that space multiple times in a-what, how long has that been open? 5 years?-period?. And then STILL need annual maintenance? Put a rug down, man, and for the love of all that is holy and good, stop wasting our money.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : noon

It is unconscionable to repeat this floor blunder again and again, for the sake of an award to hang in her office. Déjà vu. Director Josie Parker either is a slow learner, or cares more about national awards than careful spending of taxpayer money. The Ann Arbor Library had problems with the cork floor at the Mallets Creek Branch. Snow, rain, wet boots, and slush, known to be present in Ann Arbor, are all very bad for wood floors and cork. Then to make matters worse, the decision is made to use a non-traditional finish, i.e. experimental, at AA taxpayer expense. Why not finish it like a basketball court this third time around? Every time the library is closed, we lose the use of what we paid for. Shame on her for costing taxpayers money at Mallets Creek, but it is unconscionable to repeat this blunder again, for the sake of an award to hang in her office. I also fault the timing, as I tend to visit libraries more during the winter, staying outside more in spring and summer.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

" The library will instead use a product "that meets our standards and is proven to hold up well in high traffic areas," Parker wrote. Shouldn't the original product have been selected on the same criteria? Give it all the awards you want, but it's a rusty, tarnished building surrounded by weeds in my eyes.