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City to issue RFQ for new Central Library design

Monday, March 24, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The City of Austin will put out an RFQ for firms interested in designing the new Central Library next month. Staffers expect several firms to apply to be the design consultant on the project, and after a review process hope to present a short list of five firms for Council consideration this October.

 

Council Members got an update on the process at last week’s meeting in advance of an item on this week’s agenda authorizing the selection process of the design team. Firms will receive points in the evaluation for their experience in dealing with projects in Austin.

 

“It’s been very clear that the Austin Central Library will be something that is a signature of who we are as a city,” Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza told the Council. The evaluation matrix will also include a category ranking the firm’s outside consultant on library design. “This allows the team to be comprised of general architects, potentially in the local area, that have expertise in the business but can also team up with the library expert in the process,” Garza said.

 

The timeline proposed by the city staff calls for the Council to select a design consultant in November, followed by a call for firms interested in serving as the construction manager-at risk in December. After a round of citizen input in early 2009, the architects could begin actual design work in May of 2009. If the design is finished by spring of 2010 and receives Council approval, construction could begin in 2011. Staffers estimate construction would take approximately two years.

 

Council Members had questions about the cost of the project, along with the plans for parking at the new library. Staff told the Council the plans called for some underground parking at the new library to be covered by the $90 million approved by voters in a bond election. However, Council Member Brewster McCracken said that was not his intent. “The Parking Enterprise that the Council has already approved will be responsible for paying for the cost of the limited amount of parking underneath the library in addition to the public parking at the Green Water Treatment Plant site,” McCracken said. “From a cost perspective…if the Parking Enterprise pays for the parking, that backs the cost out of the construction cost of the library.”

 

City Manager Marc Ott said the staff would proceed with that direction, although he warned that the exact financial capability of the Parking Enterprise was still being determined. “It’s my understanding that the Parking Enterprise as it exists today is a fairly new business for the city, so one of the issues I would want to investigate is the financial feasibility of a new Parking Enterprise fund, and its ability to sustain such a capital investment,” he said. “If we are able to do it that way, it certainly takes some of the financial stress off of this project.”

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