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image The Encino Branch of the San Antonio Public Library is one of the most recent projects Davila Construction has completed for the City of San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO – The new Encino Branch of the San Antonio Public Library hosted its grand opening on May 2, but the building it calls home started out life as a Mexican restaurant. When Davila Construction took on the District 9 Library project, the general contractor transformed the restaurant into a modern library and community space for the City of San Antonio.

    Construction began at the site of the future library, 2515 East Evans Road, in October of last year. Originally, Davila had nine months to complete work on the $1.1 million contract, but Randy Guzman, project manager, recalls that the city requested that the construction team complete the job in five months. Working seven days a week, night and day, Davila achieved substantial completion in March and final completion in April.
    The build required taking the restaurant, which included a full kitchen and full bar area, all the way down to its studs to convert it into a library. There was one space that remained largely intact, however; the restrooms were in great shape and were left as is, except for the lighting, which was adjusted to match the lighting package for the rest of the space.
    Due to the type of lighting used throughout the building, the library’s ceiling is unique. As opposed to a gypsum or acoustical ceiling, the lights are above the ceiling tiles shining through the panels, which are made of a thin fabric material.
    The restaurant was 10,177sf, and Davila added 2,308sf to the building. The extension became the sections for teen and children’s books. The former bar area became a “flex,” or flexible, area, where visitors to the library can congregate, have meetings, or make communal use of the space. There is a second connect area, which has two televisions, where visitors can plug in their computers or do video conferencing. The interior has an open design. The individual rooms have glass walls or sliding glass doors, helping to create the look of a wide-open area.
    Guzman has worked on library projects before, but he notes that the décor in the Encino Branch is unique as is the use of space. The flex area is a big room that can be made into two rooms thanks to soundproof movable partition walls that the team installed. This allows the flex area to be used for two different meetings or one big meeting.
    The technology Davila put in place throughout the library also makes it unique. They installed Mondopads, which Guzman explains look like big flat-screen TVs, but are actually touch-screen technology like iPads. The Mondopads allow guests of the space to use them for surfing the Internet and video conferencing – even between rooms in the same library.
    Guzman notes that the library has two 80-inch Mondopads, as well as some 70-inch ones, adding, “Everything in that library is interactive.” He adds that the Encino Branch Library is the only one in the San Antonio Public Library system to have drive-thru book pickup.
    Superintendents on the project were Juan Torres and Israel Castro. The architects and engineers on the project were all hired by the City of San Antonio, including architect David Alvidrez, mechanical engineer RGM Engineering, structural engineer Jaster-Quintanilla San Antonio, technology contractor 4b Technology and landscaper F.F.Z. Group.
    VPR Construction did the demolition, framing, gypsum board, ceiling, painting and a lot of the finishes. Texas Asphalt & Maintenance did a lot of the landscaping, irrigation and parking lot. Prosperitus Solutions did a lot of the initial concrete work. Straight Line Management did the mill work and countertops.
    Other subcontractors on the job included HJD Capital Electric, Aram Plumbing, Air Mechanical Services, Affordable Tile & Flooring and 1st Fire Protection.
    Davila Construction was founded in 1956 by Albert S. Davila. Tony Davila became owner of the company in 1983 and is still president and CEO. The commercial general contractor does mostly government and private sector work. –mh

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Mary Hazlett mary@constructionnews.net