Committee recommends design firm for new downtown library

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

In a major step toward the addition of a new central library in downtown Minneapolis, the Central Library Implementation committee on Friday unanimously recommended Cesar Pelli and Associates to design the building.

The firm, which also designed the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Minneapolis, was one of three the committee considered in the final round. Architectural Alliance of Minneapolis will team with Pelli on the project.

Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle and Hardy Holtzman Pfeiffer Associates were other firms the committee considered.

“Pelli is at the top of my list,” said committee member Tom Parish. “The architecture is strong, the engineers are strong. They just have a good team.”

Despite overwhelming support for Pelli and Associates, committee members said they were pleased with all three final groups.

“We are incredibly blessed with three solid teams,” said committee member Kathleen Lamb. “I want to acknowledge the excellence of all the participants.”

The implementation committee submitted its recommendation to the City Council and the Library Board, who will make the final decision. The City Council is expected to vote on the recommendation Friday.

City Council and CLI committee member Joan Campbell said she did not think Pelli and Associates will have a problem getting the final agreement from the other groups. She said she is happy with the choice the committee made.

“I was looking for a passion and a sense of what the city is all about,” Campbell said. “Any one of these people could have done the job.”

Each of the competing firms submitted monetarily similar bids, leaving committee members to vote on who they thought presented the best project, Parish said.

Campbell said she expects the new library to be completed sometime in 2006. Move in is planned for that year also, depending on finalized plans by Pelli and Associates.

Carol Becker, CLI committee member, said she was also pleased with the recommendation. “It’s not just Pelli, it’s the whole team.” Becker said. “I liked them all.”