Boise hires famed architect to design new main library

Boise officials have hired a famed architect to design a new main library to replace the current library that is a retrofitted warehouse from the 1940s.

The Boise City Council on Tuesday approved a 12-week contract with Moshe Safdie, the Idaho Statesman reported. Safdie designed the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, as well as other buildings around the world.

Moshe Safdie. Photo by Norma Gòmez via Flickr Commons.
Moshe Safdie. Photo by Norma Gòmez via Flickr Commons.

Safdie will work with Boise architecture firm CSHQA on the 110,000-square-foot (10,219-square-meter) library where the existing main library now stands near the Boise River.

“To have an architect of this calibre just makes everything better,” Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said before the hiring of Safdie. “It makes the prospect of raising money a little easier. It just raises the excitement level, which was already good. And the prospects of getting a great building are increasing significantly.”

Boise has been trying to replace the current library for nearly two decades and solicited proposals last year. Safdie’s team was one of seven that applied and ultimately got the job.

“One of the questions I asked him was, ‘Why would you want to do this project? It seems like small potatoes for you,”’ said Kevin Booe, library director. “And he said, ‘No. I really like the community projects.”’

Safdie visited Boise in December and again in January, examining the site and making notes, Boise Arts and History Director Terri Schorzman said.

“The second time he came, he spent the day wandering that entire site, into Julia Davis Park, trying to look at all the vantage points, looking at every single angle and getting a sense of location and place and colour,” Schorzman said.  “His notebook was just filled with amazing stuff he’d already worked on, just in that day.”