A graffiti wall, a game room and a movie theater in Goodman Library?
These are just a few of the suggestions Madison area students had as they shared their vision for a new teen area, set to open in the space at 2222 S. Park St. this summer.
The interactive brainstorming session, “Goodman Library New Teen Space Design Challenge,” was facilitated by the Hip-Hop Architect, Michael Ford. Tuesday’s event brought together a dozen middle school students, many of whom frequent the library after school.
The Goodman Foundation, the Madison Public Library, Engberg Anderson Architects and Ford are teaming up for the project. At minimum, the coalition plans to upgrade furniture, finishes, carpet and beautify the space.
The students spent three hours assessing the needs of the current space and sharing their ideas for the redesign. Ford added a competitive edge to the evening as students strived to create the best design to win prizes, including gift cards or a pair of Beats By Dre headphones.
Goodman Library has a large area and programming for elementary school students, but the Goodman Foundation recognized the need to give teens more ownership of the space.
Ford said teens who use the library expressed a need for a bigger space to study and socialize. Last year, Madison teens said they were frustrated by a curfew at East and West Towne malls, and called for more programming and welcoming spaces to spend their time.
“The library should be a place where kids can come and not have to worry about curfews,” Ford said. “They need something to do while they are here.”
Alex, 13, is a student at Sennett Middle School who spends her time after school at the Goodman Library. She said she wishes teens had a larger, dedicated space to connect with one another and feel comfortable.
“I come here, but wander around, looking for a place to sit. I want a place where I am excited to go,” Alex said. “If we had a (fun area) here, I’d want to come more.”
“There are not many places for us to chill,” added Dorian, 13, a student at Sennett.
Alex, Dorian and the rest of their team envisioned a large, bright space, full of windows and natural light where teens can study, socialize, eat, use technology and work on their art.
Mike Zuehlke, senior associate at Engberg Anderson Architects, said the group’s suggestions were just the kind of feedback needed for a successful redesign.
Zuehlke recalled the community meetings Engberg Anderson held when they rebuilt the Meadowridge Library and Neighborhood Center in 2014. He is excited South Madison youth will have the same opportunity to influence the design of the new teen area.
“The kids are the ones using the space, so it is great to see what they want,” Zuehlke said. “Teens need to feel comfortable in their spot.”
Ford is hosting another session for high school students to share their ideas on Thursday at Goodman Library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.