Central Library

710 W Cesar Chavez St Austin

Downtown Austin Alliance
Written By Downtown Austin Alliance

The Downtown Austin Alliance is a partnership of downtown property owners, individuals, and businesses devoted to preserving and enhancing the value and vitality of downtown Austin.

Designed by renowned regional architecture firm Lake/Flato, along with national design firm Shepley Bulfinch, The 200,000-square-foot Central Library is Austin's most anticipated public building in recent memory. The Central Library has been touted as the library of the future and is on track for a LEED Platinum rating. The library will also feature: • 6 floors with 200,000 total square feet • 14 Shared Learning Rooms • 589 seats throughout the building • 140 public use PC and Mac computers • 150 self-check electronic devices • 50 large screens for displaying electronic info

Optimizing natural light was paramount in the design of the library. The building was built with enormous windows on all sides as well as giant skylights on the roof with clerestories that feed natural light into a six-story atrium at the center of the building where it is then beamed into every floor. This groundbreaking design makes Austin's Central Library arguably the best daylit library in the world.

Library construction included an artist-designed screenwall surrounding the remaining substation, a ‘festival street’ shared space design for the extension of 2nd Street, the new 2nd Street ‘butterfly bridge’ crossing Shoal Creek, and improvements to the Shoal Creek Greenbelt and Lance Armstrong Bikeway.

The prestigious Shepley Bulfinch firm has worked on more than 100 libraries and is renowned for their forward thinking creations. In the case of The Austin Central Library much thought was put into imputing flexibility into the design so that it wouldn't quickly fall into obsolescence as so many structures do. The library is built with a raised-floor system to allow for easier access to cables and wiring as inevitable technological changes necessitate system upgrades. The library also includes a bicycle garage and even a repair station to take into account the shifting transportation modes as Austin becomes more densely populated. In many ways, the Central Library really is the library of the future.

Cover photo by Austin Public Library

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