Safdie Architects was selected after an extensive search process that included city staff, library trustees, Boise City Council members and Boise Mayor David Bieter. 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 & 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 wide 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.
“The City of Boise has a clear vision for how the new Boise Library can be a gateway to the city,” said Moshe Safdie. “The building program, the public engagement process, and the site itself, will be the foundation of a design solution unique to Boise, one that reflects its highest aspirations and values as a community.”
Under the 12-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.
“Boise is an incredibly vibrant city with a rich history and exciting future,” said Boise City Council President Lauren McLean. “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. I am so excited that his team will create a Downtown Library! for generations to come.
Originally built in the 1940s as a hardware warehouse, the current Main Library was converted to a library 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 & History offices, city archives and programing space, and approximately 20,000 square feet will accommodate the 400-seat event space.
“The new Main Library campus will become a catalyst for activities anchoring Boise’s Cultural District,” said Dwaine Carver, president of the library’s board of trustees and co-founder of CTY Studio, a Boise-based architectural firm. “The integrity of Safdie’s architecture, his sensitivity to place, and community, will be a profound contribution to the City of Boise.”
Estimated to cost approximately $60-70 million, the project will be funded through a mix of financing, public funding and philanthropy.