Waukee’s Public Library is gaining a special place. A gift from a former Waukee resident, Hiram Ori, the Coal Mine Meeting Room and museum will tell a story which many residents do not know. The Schuler Coal Mine, located just 2 miles northeast of Waukee, was once a community of 450 people and more than 30 mules. The Ori family grew up in this community off Alice’s Road and wanted to create a place for the community to gather and exchange ideas.
Slingshot Architecture walked the building and site with Library Director Erik Surber to begin to understand the goals for the project and how the architecture could best tell the story of the coal mine community, while still serving the needs of the library itself. We talked about low wood beams, dim light and how the floor could slope giving the visitor an experience of entering a mine. The visitor should ‘feel’ what life was like for the community in the 1920’s. The exterior black cladding symbolizes the dark shaft to reach the coal.
The meeting hall at the end would draw the visitor to a daylit room and trees beyond. The octagon room creates a round table atmosphere and echoes back to Prairie Style architecture of the early 1900’s. The wood roof beams and pendant lights create a warm memorable place.
We’re looking forward to beginning construction next month.