Austin’s new public library reflects the city’s transformation and energy

Austin’s new public library reflects the city’s transformation and energy. The exterior is clad in limestone and grey metal panels, accentuated by corrugated metal. (Leonid Furmanksy) Austin ’s new Central Public Library, designed by Lake|Flato with Shepley Bulfinch , opened last October. The 198,000-square-foot facility occupies a full city block adjacent to where Shoal Creek meets the Colorado River in the western part of downtown. Austin’s first residents settled here 180 years ago, and in the 20th-century municipal facilities like the Seaholm Power Plant were built nearby. Planning for the library began in 2009 as part of the district redevelopment surrounding the repurposed power plant. After some delays, the library , with a $125 million price tag, arrives as a major addition to downtown’s cultural landscape. In Austin, the new library doubles the book capacity of the previous central library, but books are not the focus of the architecture. For years, the library typology has been morphing into a more generic public space that supports a range of studious and social actions. Austin’s new Central Public Library, the city’s fourth, is an example of the library as urban amenity. Here, event takes precedence over edifice. As such, its traditional […]

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