First look: Austin breaks ground on 'light-filled' Central Library

Design scheme by Lake|Flato and Shepley Bulfinch incorporates reading "porches" and a light-filled, six-story atrium.

June 07, 2013 |
The city of Austin, Texas, last week broke ground on its new Central Library, establishing a major civic presence and community gathering space in the heart of the city’s redeveloped Seaholm district. The library, which is scheduled for completion in 2016, is designed by the architectural joint venture of Lake|Flato and Shepley Bulfinch.
The building is defined by a light-filled, six-story atrium space wrapped by collections and event space. Distinctive elements include a series of reading porches that overlook Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, a quiet reading room, café, and Recycled Reads bookstore. Special areas that support the city’s emerging culture and arts scene include a 350-seat special events center.
The library is targeting a minimum of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. Its sustainable strategies include a major photovoltaic panel array, which will generate electrical power for the building; a rainwater harvesting system that will provide water for landscape irrigation and restroom plumbing fixtures; and a landscaped roof.
The facility supports alternative transportation, with charging stations for electric cars; a 150-bike corral, and direct links to the multi-use paths that run along the water.
The 198,000 square foot facility will replace the city’s 1979 Faulk Central Library.
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