Boise Library Enters New Design Phase; Planners Look To Reduce Cost

Dec 5, 2018

The new library designed by architect Moshe Safdie comes with a hefty cost. As the project enters the schematic design phase, planners with the City of Boise are looking for ways to get the structure in-line with an $85 million budget.
Credit City of Boise

As the City of Boise moves forward with plans for a new downtown library, some of the more practical aspects of building the structure are coming into focus.

This week, the Boise City Council approved an $11 million contract with internationally famous architect Moshe Safdie’s firm to shepherd the library to completion. As the project evolves from one phase to another, planners are looking to hammer out some specifics.

Shawn Wilson works for Boise’s Public Works Department and is managing the library project. In a nutshell, he says schematic design is when unknowns start getting reduced.

“You start looking at things like what materials might I use, making sure you understand the scope of the project – the budget, the construction schedules—look at constructability issues,” Wilson lists off.

One of the biggest issues facing the project is cost. As proposed, Safdie’s library design has an estimated price tag of $104 million. The city has set a ceiling of $85 million for the project.

In an effort to reach that goal, a $9 million event space planned for the library complex is getting pushed back. Wilson says planners are looking at the library as a campus that can grow over time as opposed to a build-it-all-at-once project. That gives them options.

“Portions of the campus may need to be phased or built at a later date,” says Wilson. “We have a construction manager to help guide us, to make sure we’re doing a good material selection. Say a component like steel is really high, maybe we focus the structure a little more on another material that’s not as high.”

Wilson is adamant the effort to reduce the cost of the library won’t interfere with Safdie’s vision for the structure.

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