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What to cut or delay to get the Boise library under budget: Skybridge, theater? Presentation gives peek at status

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Boise Library Expansion

Ahead of a meeting and public hearing with Boise City Council next week, the Boise Library Board of Trustees received an update on the library campus project earlier this month.

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The Boise City Council will also see a briefing on the project’s status Tuesday at 3pm at Boise City Hall. Later that night it will hold a public hearing to consider putting a vote on the library project on the ballot this fall.

BoiseDev requested the slide deck presentation from the board meeting. Minutes from the meeting were not yet available, and library board meetings are not routinely made available in audio or video formats.

Reducing costs

The City of Boise repeatedly notes that the project must come in under an $85 million budget. However, to meet that budget, the city continues to consider “phasing” portions of the project. This would increase the cost above the $85 million level by delaying construction of elements such as the planned theater or arts and history center.

A number of other changes are marked as “yes”:

  • Remove a roof of some outdoor areas and replace with a trellis
  • Reduce glazing on the windows by 50%
  • Use pavers inside the large ‘urban room’ instead of a terazzo floor
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An even larger number of changes to reduce cost sit in the “maybe” category:

  • Eliminate a glass roof over the main urban room area
  • Adjust the grade of the building to make it lower and bring the entry to the first level
  • Reduce overall square footage by 5% or 10%
  • Relax energy goals
  • Phase the arts & history center
  • Phase the redevelopment of 8th Street
  • Use a steel structure instead of concrete
  • Eliminate raised floors
  • Reduce the depth of window recesses
Boise Library project
A prior version of the Boise Library site plan shows a “sawtooth” building edge along the west side of the building (the top of this image).

One idea, to simplify the ‘sawtooth’ pattern of the west side of the library is marked as ‘no.’

The slide deck mentions the idea of a previously-unreported ‘pedestrian skybridge’ connecting the library to a possible parking structure across River St.

Library executive director Kevin Booe said that idea is in the schematic design – but won’t be part of the construction phase. The slide deck indicates this could also be a phased design feature.

Wassmuth Center changes

Officials with the Wassmuth Center, which operates the Anne Frank Memorial, went public with concerns about the library projects earlier this summer in an interview with Boise State Public Radio.

“The new library comes right up against the memorial,” Wassmuth Center Executive Director Dan Prinzing told George Prentice. “We have been asked by the city if we would be willing to alter some of the layout of the memorial.”

“We’ve seen in the initial plan that our office goes away. It is a city-owned building we lease from the library. We are in ongoing discussion with where might the center be located.”

Prinzing said discussion included space within the library itself, or below ground on the current site of The Cabin Literary Center – where the basement of the building is now located.”

“What an intriguing way to use historic footprint with modern purpose. Do not counter the view that the library architect would like to see there.”

Prinzing said the city felt the idea was “out of the box.”

The slide deck shows an updated design for the area where the library interacts with the Wassmuth Center. The schematic shows a reconfiguration of the pathways around the memorial and the Rose Beal Legacy Garden.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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