Architectural firm chosen for Boise Library makeover

BOISE, ID - World-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and his firm, Safdie Architects, will lead the team to design a new, modern main library for Boise, city officials have announced.

The Boise City Council Tuesday night approved the contract with Safdie and the local project team, which includes the Boise-based design firm CSHQA.

“Safdie Architects was selected after an extensive search process that included city staff, library trustees, Boise City Council members and Boise Mayor David Bieter,” said Boise City spokesman Mike Journee. “The firm will be charged with designing a new center for education and culture that brings together a modernized, expanded main library, a flexible 400-seat event space and a new location for the Boise City Department of Arts and History that includes a state-of-the-art gallery and retail space. The building will be on the main library’s current site on Capitol Boulevard.”

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Boise to create an iconic, one-of-a-kind library that will mark Boise as a city that aspires to greatness,” said Mayor Bieter. “For the next 100 years, or more, it will excite and inspire Boiseans as an expression of who we are, what we care about, and where we are going together. A visionary architect like Moshe Safdie will make it one of the most important buildings ever constructed in our city.”

Safdie Architects have been responsible for designing and realizing a range of projects worldwide, including cultural, civic and educational institutions; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and masterplans for existing neighborhoods and entirely new cities. The firm’s recent library and civic projects include the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and Vancouver Library Square.  

Under the twelve-week contract approved by the City Council, Safdie Architects will develop a final concept for the building -- a process that will include open houses and other opportunities for the public to participate in the project and offer comment on the design.  

“We wanted an architect that would challenge us to think big, be creative, honor the arts, history and written word and indeed our city and her residents and who would sense Boise’s magic and be inspired by her potential. Moshe Safdie answered the call,” said Boise City Council President Lauren McLean.  

Originally built in the 1940s as a hardware warehouse, the current Main Library was converted to a library back in 1973. With increased attendance and program participation, the library services and space are no longer meeting our residents’ and visitors’ needs. 

The new building is expected to be approximately 150,000 square feet. Of that, about 110,000 square feet is dedicated to library space (nearly doubling the amount of publicly-accessible library space), approximately 20,000 square feet will be Department of Art and History offices, city archives and programming space, and approximately 20,000 square feet will accommodate the 400-seat event space. 

Estimated to cost approximately $60-70 million, the project will be funded through a mix of financing, public funding and philanthropy.
 

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