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Design Commission gets update on plans for new Central Library

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

City Facilities planner John Gillum continues to struggle with fitting a $200 million Central Library plan for Austin into a $90 million package.


Gillum made a brief presentation on the new Central Library to the Design Commission last night. Voters approve $90 million toward the project budget in 2006. The deadline for finishing the project is early 2014.


“The Citizens Bond Review Advisory Committee provided a $90 million total project budget, and what we’re trying to do right now is to try to make our building program fit into that and still build a central library that will serve them some time into the future,” Gillum said. “Right now, we’re looking at how we make this expandable at some point in the future.”


Lake Flato Architects and Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott are the design team on the Central Library project. The contract was finalized last September. A construction manager at risk contract will be executed in April.


The library project timeline, Gillum said, is to have the schematic plan 30 percent complete by this spring. At that point, the Library Commission will be briefed and the Council will approve the progress on the project. By fall, design development should be 60 percent completed, at which point it will go through the approval process again, Gillum said.


To make the project affordable, the plan is to build the 250,000 square foot shell but to use about 170,000 square feet of space initially, Gillum said. Whether that’s workable is in the process of being negotiated, Gillum said.


The goal has been to come up with a preliminary plan for the library and then have the Austin Library Foundation fund the difference. Gillum said fund-raising would not start until the design work was completed, so the foundation would have schematic drawings to show a potential donor.


The next project update to Council could be as early as March, Gillum said. March could be a big month if the department can close on both the construction manager at risk contract and the schematic design. The Design Commission will continue to monitor the project through the process.


The timeline for the library project would be to pull permits in Fall 2011. Construction would be initiated by Winter 2011. Construction should be completed in fall 2013, with a grand opening in 2014, Gillum said.

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