New Central Library

New Central Library Renderings


New Central Library

710 W. César Chávez St.


  • November 2016: Building construction substantially completed
  • April/May 2017: Grand Opening Ceremony rescheduled

What is a "library for the future"?

  • Flexible & Blended Spaces
  • Focus on electronic delivery of information
  • State-of-the-art technologies
  • Community gathering place promoting a mixture of lively and contemplative spaces
  • Collections displayed to encourage discovery

What will the New Central Library offer?

  • Location of New Central Library near the Seaholm Power PlantReading porches and an indoor reading room overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake
  • Landmark public gathering atrium space adjacent to Shoal Creek
  • Library café with outdoor dining adjacent to Second St. and Shoal Creek Park
  • Recycled Reads bookstore and upcycling facility
  • Gallery space featuring local and national artists
  • Abundant bicycle parking
  • A permanent exhibit of beloved puppets created by the Austin Public Library

July 2016 Update

At the present time, subcontractor crews are busily working throughout the interior spaces of the New Central Library, up on the roof and exterior walls and across the entire site. Some of the construction activities include but are not limited to: stone flooring installation in the event center lobby and the cooking demonstration area; speakers and window shades going up in the special event center on the first floor; sanding and finishing of the mesquite floor in the art gallery on the second level is in progress while fire suppression sprinklers are being installed in the bookstore; terrazzo flooring and millwork is in the process of being placed on the third floor atrium level; wood flooring installation is ongoing in front of the elevators on the third and fourth floors; construction of the "wave" ceilings is underway in the teen area, and intumescent (fireproofing) paint is being applied to the third and fourth floor reading porches. Scrim and scrim lights are being installed outside of the fourth floor Grand Reading Room, while planting beds and guardrails are being constructed on the roof garden. Landscaping, sidewalks, pavers and bollards are being placed on the ground level alongside the installation of stonework at the Bike Corral and soffit panels at the Café. Despite all the progress being made on the project, the contractor has recently predicted that Substantial Completion of the building will not be achieved before November of 2016, based on their belief that the high rise facility’s Life Safety elements, including the smoke evacuation system, will not be completed to the satisfaction of the Austin Fire Department before that time. Meanwhile, on June 16, Council authorized negotiation and execution of a 12-month contract with Java Connections, LLC DBA Laptops Anytime, to provide five 30-bay self-service kiosks for the New Central Library in an amount not to exceed $337,915, with two 12-month extension options in an amount not to exceed $33,665 per extension option, for a total contract amount not to exceed $413,245. This contract will provide an all-in-one automated laptop/tablet self-check-out station for customers of the New Central Library. At their following meeting on June 23, Council further authorized:

  1. An amendment to the contract with Ungerboeck Systems International, Inc., for event booking software and system services for an increase of $95,877 for the first extension option, and to increase the remaining four extension options in an amount not to exceed $28,177 per extension option, for a revised total contract amount not to exceed $1,408,585. The original contract was awarded through a competitive process on February 26, 2015 for the purchase of event booking software, and this software has managed all aspects of booking and facilitating the services associated with events and event space for the Austin Convention Center Department (ACCD). The amendment authorized adding the Austin Public Library (APL) to the contract and to increase the contract amount to accommodate the need of the APL to provide a system to manage public spaces in the New Central Library, including but not limited to the 350-seat special event center, the 75-seat cooking demonstration area and the rooftop garden.
  2. Ratification of an amendment to the professional services agreement with NADAAA, Inc., for additional design services for the Seaholm Substation Wall Project in an amount not to exceed $18,700, using existing funds in the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Capital Budget of the Economic Development Department and authorizing an additional $18,482.81, for a total contract amount not to exceed $495,324.29. The Art in Public Places Program’s Seaholm Substation Wall Project consists of screening and enclosing the City’s downtown electrical substation located in the Seaholm District adjacent to the New Central Library. The wall is approximately 1,200 feet in length, with a height ranging from 12 to 15 feet. This work is part of the New Central Library and Related Improvements Project managed by the Public works Department. Council’s approval of this request for ratification provides authorization for the required additional design of the Seaholm Substation Wall. After many redesigns and value-engineering efforts requested by the City, including a funding shortfall in the original wall design of the Seaholm Substation Wall, deletion of some scope and a change in construction materials proved necessary. Redesign of the wall connections is required in order to use the already-built foundations with the newly selected wall materials and allow construction to proceed as scheduled.
  3. Negotiation and execution of an amendment to the professional services agreement with Lake|Flato

Architects, Inc./Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, Incorporated, a Joint Venture for architectural services for the New Central Library in the amount of $1,327,289, using additional funds in the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget of the Austin Public Library and authorizing an additional $1,300,000, for a total contract amount not to exceed $12,154,700. Hensel Phelps Construction Company, the Construction Manager at Risk for the project, originally estimated that the construction would be complete in February 2016; however, unforeseen site conditions, weather delays, building code requirements and utility coordination issues have required the construction duration to be extended. The current substantial completion date is estimated to be in November of 2016. In order to continue the construction phase of this project, the amendment to the professional services agreement with Lake|Flato/Shepley Bulfinch Joint Venture was required. The amendment provides additional services and compensation for extended construction administration, including reviewing contractor submittals, addressing design related issues, clarifying and interpreting contract documents as necessary, assisting in evaluating issues that arise during the course of construction, facilitating progress meetings and creating a record set of drawings which depict changes that accrued during construction.

While construction of the project is progressing well, the presently anticipated Substation Completion date of November of 2016 for the delivery of a finished building will ultimately move the opening date of the New Central Library to the Spring of 2017. In addition to the aforementioned request for design contract funding authorization, staff anticipates bringing forth a request for Council’s approval of an increase in the construction cost limitation for the Hensel Phelps construction contract later this year as multiple project change orders and claims are addressed.

Art in Public Places

Birds by Christian Moeller, kinetic sculpture resembling a gigantic cuckoo clockOn January 6, 2014 the Art in Public Places Panel approved the Final Design for the New Central Library Art Project titled Birds by Christian Moeller, a world-class, innovative public artist whose works often incorporate robotic elements. Birds is a 37’ kinetic sculpture resembling a gigantic cuckoo clock with a swinging pendulum which will be wall-mounted in the atrium.

An accompanying LED animation screen featuring a black bird will be mounted on the 5th level. A computer program will drive the behavior and gestures of the bird using an artificial life system. This work is inspired in part by Austin’s relation to its resident grackle population and by the strong presence black birds have in mythology and literature.

New Central Library Contacts

Cindy Jordan
Project Manager, Public Works

John Gillum
Facilities Process Manager, Austin Public Library