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Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Laurie Lyons

6 Reasons to be Excited About the New Central Library

Gone are the days of the stodgy librarian shushing loud patrons. That dusty old stereotype, as well as the idea of a library as a building just filled with books, computers, and the occasional special event, has been replaced with new concepts of what a library could and should be, and Austin will have a shining example of that in 2016. The New Central Library, located at 710 W. Cesar Chavez, will replace Faulk Central Library that opened in 1979, and will feature some elements that will make this space something that Austinites can truly be excited about. Here are just a few things that make the New Central Library something to look forward to:

Austin Public Library Rendering

Lake|Flato Architects (via City of Austin)

It’s Big. Like Really Big.

At 198,000 square feet and six stories, the new library will be substantially larger than the Faulk Central Library’s 110,000 square-foot-space. That increase in space will allow for some innovative new features that will allow the library to diversify the types of learning opportunities that it can offer, as well as become more of a community gathering space.

Food!

Now that Austin is a full-blown foodie town, thanks to the growth under the tutelage of chefs like Tyson Cole, Paul Qui, and Bryce Gilmore, it makes perfect sense that the library will feature a 300-person event space with catering kitchen and full-service restaurant. The event space would play host to free cooking classes and lectures from visiting chefs and cookbook authors. Austin 360 reports that facilities manager John Gillum is already receiving calls for reservations for the event space.

Art Spaces

Austin may be a fairly newbie town when it comes to the food scene, but art is certainly a place where it thrives. The new library will host a gallery that features local and national artists, display areas that highlight Austin musicians and cinematic achievements, as well as a permanent display of puppets created by Austin Public Library. Many of these works will be just as innovative as the building that houses them:

Birds by Christian Moeller

Birds by Christian Moeller (via City of Austin)

“On 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 of the new Library.

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

via City of Austin

Library for the Future

Austin is a great place for innovative concepts that help create a forward-moving community, and the library will be a giant symbol of that. To create the first “library for the future” in the United States (and the second in the world), Austin Public Library representatives worked with library consultant and futurist Joan Frye Williams to create a space that focuses on the electronic delivery of information, incorporates flexible, blended spaces, and appeals to a variety of people from all walks of life.

Reading Porches

Any good bibliophile knows that finding a great place to read a book (paper or digital format) is something to be treasured. The new library promises to have plenty of those great spaces, with reading porches as the crown jewel. They might not be the most popular places in July and August, but come March and April, the reading porches will provide a cozy place to curl up and read, all while overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake.

Environmental Friendliness Around Every Corner

Recycled Reads, a zero-waste bookstore, will have a retail store on-site at the library, providing new life to books that might otherwise end up in landfills. The library’s parking lot will also play host to charging stations for electric cars, and there will be plenty of bike parking at the Bicycle Corral next to the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Other environmentally friendly strategies include:

“Forward-thinking strategies such as demand controlled ventilation, variable air and water flow, day lighting control, extensive use of LEDs and on-site energy production are just some of the ways that the New Central Library will provide for a sustainable future. Overall, the facility is designed to operate 30% more efficiently than code requires resulting in energy savings equivalent to the energy needs of 130 households per year. It features a 200kW Photovoltaic array – the largest local PV installation for a non-Austin Energy facility.”

According to the projected timeline, the library will have construction finished in Spring 2016, with a grand opening ceremony in November 2016. What features are you looking forward to in the New Central Library? Let us know in the comments below!

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