A work in progress: Construction continues on Stanley Center

Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Since mid-September of 2021, when the Stanley Center for Peace and Security held their ground healing ceremony for their new headquarters, downtown residents and workers have watched with curiosity as the old Musser Public Library building transforms into a modern workspace designed to meet Living Building Challenge standards. With demolition work making way for reconstruction and part of Iowa Avenue closed to allow for utility work, the Stanley Center anticipates great progress on their new home in the weeks ahead.

For the last several months, Graham Construction has worked to remove the parts of the old Library that did not serve the Stanley Center’s purposes and started reconfiguring the building to make it more useable. They have removed most of the building’s fixtures on the first floor, in some places down to the dirt, allowing the Stanley Center to add several indoor planters for ficus type trees in their main entryway. “The connection to nature is very important to us,” noted Stanley Center for Peace and Security Vice President and Director of Communications Mark Seaman.

To allow for a kitchen and café space for their team members to eat meals in, complete with a backsplash made from pearl button blanks from the National Pearl Button Museum @ History and Industry Center, Graham moved the elevator shaft to the side of the building next to the Muscatine Center for Social Action and will relocate the stairs to the wall opposite their original location. They also removed the section of the library used for classrooms to make space for an outdoor atrium where people can work and take breaks, landscaped with native trees and grasses in the spirit of the Living Building Challenge.

On the Third Street side, Graham redid the floorplan to allow for a mudroom with bicycle parking, an exercise area, bathrooms, and a safety room that, in an emergency, could house Stanley Center team member and others for several days with non-perishable food, water, and energy. Upstairs, demolition work has cleared the way to create private offices.

The Living Building Challenge promotes not only environmental sustainability, but community sustainability as well, encouraging companies to build positive connections with their neighbors. To that end, the Stanley Center will donate produce grown in a garden in their atrium to the Muscatine Center for Social Action food pantry. They will also build a trellis over the alley separating the two buildings with solar panels atop it, providing shelter from the elements for people waiting in line for the food pantry. When construction in the alley prevented trucks from bringing food to the pantry, construction workers on site graciously offered to unload and bring the food in, minimizing disruptions.

Though work on the Stanley Center has proven challenging, with Project Engineer Ginger Zenor having to develop new recycling contacts to keep the project 98% landfill free and source each materially carefully, it has remained on schedule. Seaman estimates the renovated building will open in November. He anxiously awaits the day when everyone at the Stanley Center can come, “back together after COVID and to have a space where we can all collaborate.” He also looks forward to welcoming the public in both for educational programs and to show what advances in ecologically friendly construction techniques can do in practice.

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