insight.shepleybulfinch > civic work

Design begins for Austin’s new Central Library

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The design team of Shepley Bulfinch of Boston and Lake|Flato Architects of San Antonio has begun schematic design for Austin’s New Central Library.

A destination and a city landmark in the making, the New Central Library will welcome residents to a facility that emphasizes the delivery of information in both electronic and book formats, and includes a mix of lively and contemplative spaces. Collections will be displayed to encourage discovery, supported by state-of-the-art technologies integrated throughout the facility.

“What will the library need to be 30 years from now? In 2009, we could not have envisioned the astonishing development of e-books, tablets, and smartphones in 2010,” said Sid Bowen, managing principal of Shepley Bulfinch. “For the library to work as well in 2050 as it will in 2015 the design has to be flexible. It has to fit more like a mitten than a glove.”

Creating a Central Library that reflects Austin’s culture and diversity is central to its design. This means making the building highly sustainable to build and operate. Planned for a former industrial site along Lady Bird Lake, the library will make generous use of natural light and local materials, making connections with the landscape along the creek and river on two sides and the vibrant life of the city on the other two.

“The New Central Library will be a critical element in the life of the City,” said design partner David Lake of Lake|Flato. ‚ÄúLocated in the heart of downtown Austin, overlooking Shoal Creek and Ladybird Lake, the Library will be a portal to knowledge and community, a welcoming open house reflecting Austin’s love for the outdoors and its citizens creative spirit and cultural diversity, a refuge for reading, a landmark and a destination for all to enjoy.”

Reflecting community input gathered in a series of public meetings held in late 2009, the library will have a wide mix of programs and meeting spaces, and will be easily accessed by car, foot, bicycle, and public transportation. Public input will continue to be sought throughout the design process through the Austin Public Library’s website.

The $120 million library will have 17 different meeting spaces, including study rooms, conference rooms, and a flexible event space that will accommodate up to 350 people. With plans for between 185,000 and 200,000 square feet of space, the new library will be nearly double that of the city’s 110,000 square foot John Henry Faulk Central Library, which opened in 1979.

The new library is scheduled to break ground in 2013, with a projected completion date in 2015.

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