Architect field narrowed for new city library design

Shira Kantor

Three architectural firms remain in the running to design a new Minneapolis library after a committee discarded three other contenders in a meeting Tuesday.

The Central Library Implementation Committee spent much of the two-hour meeting rehashing citizen and Minneapolis Public Library Board responses to last week’s architect presentations and interviews.

After wading through two hours of each other’s testimony, the committee narrowed the list to include:

ï Ellerbe Becket with Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

ï Cesar Pelli & Associates with Architectural Alliance

ï RSP Architects with Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer

Mary Lawson, administrative director of the Central Library, asked before the selection that the committee define exactly what it desired.

“Is a star designer architect of most importance, or is a collective team that’s easy to work with preferable?” she asked.

Committee member Elladean Webster said, “this is a facility that reaches every person in our city.

“I was looking for something that was unique and someone who would bring something to the city that wasn’t another square box.”

A single firm will be selected on Aug. 23, after the committee interviews the chosen firms. The committee will then make its recommendation to the City Council and the Library Board.

Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, co-chair of the committee, said all of the firms were “fascinating and extremely talented,” adding she would like to mesh components of each firm since all of them had something unique to offer.

The library will be part of a five-story mixed-use development that will span both the area on which the current library sits on Third Street and Nicollet Mall, and an adjacent, city-owned block.

Other development components include retail space, a coffee shop, housing, a public commons, parking and a new planetarium and science center.

Last November, Minneapolis citizens voted to fund the library’s construction with $110 million of a $140 million referendum. The remaining $30 million will go toward improving community libraries over the next 10 years.

Kristi Gibson, the library’s public affairs coordinator, said the project budget exceeds the allotted amount by $12 million, a difference that will have to be made up with private donations.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2003 after design completion, with a finish date slated for 2006.


Shira Kantor encourages comments at [email protected]