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Surprise selection for Austin Central Library

The city council of Austin, Texas surprised its staff and the public when it selected the second ranked architectural team of Lake/Flato Architects and Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott on Thursday to design its new central library. The staff had rated 22 applicants before recommending the team of Barnes Gromatzy Kosarek Architects and Taniguchi with Holzman Moss for the job.

“It was a really tough decision" Mayor Will Wynn, a graduate of Texas A&M's College of Architecture, told the local newspaper the Statesman about overruling his staff’s selection. "Ultimately I believe that (Lake/Flato's) design talent and commitment to sustainability will marry well with the site and with what we are trying to achieve." Council Member Laura Morrison voted against Lake/Flato, saying she thinks Barnes Gromatzy has the best record of gathering public input, finishing projects on time and under budget, and including minority-owned firms in its work. Going forward, Mayor Wynn says he will ask Lake Flato to seek greater minority firm participation in the project.

The 250,000 sq ft library will be built with $90 million in voter-approved bond money. As envisioned, the new library will be sustainable, with a rainwater harvesting system, and be a great civic space with a grand porch overlooking Lady Bird Lake.

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