Newport Beach Public Library’s Lecture Hall clears another hurdle

Rendering of the new library conference room

The Newport Beach Public Library Boardroom Project has cleared another major hurdle, according to information from the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Architectural plans for the conference room have been submitted to the City of Newport Beach for plan verification, code compliance review for the proposed design.

The conference room will be nearly 10,000 square feet, with tiered seating for 299 guests. It will be located next to the Central Library in a separate building. Other improvements include an expanded courtyard for receptions and other events, and a reconfiguration of the central library parking lot.

The dream of a new amphitheater has been in development for many years but is getting closer to reality.

In July 2019, after several presentations to City Council demonstrating the need and demand for an improved facility to accommodate authors, prominent speakers, and city and community gatherings, the city formed the Design Committee for the library conference room. The committee is chaired by Jill Johnson-Tucker, along with Newport Beach Board Member Diane Dixon, Foundation Board Chair Karen H. Clark, Library Trustee Janet Ray, and Societies Executive Vice President Matthew Witte. related.

View from the conference room scene in an architectural rendering

The design committee was tasked with evaluating potential architects for the project. After reviewing submissions from eight leading companies and conducting several interviews, the committee recommended that city council choose local architect Robert Coffee, who also designed the Oasis seniors’ center.

At a city council meeting in November 2019, there was a lengthy contentious discussion during the meeting about the boardroom, and hundreds of emails from supporters and opponents to the boardroom.

During the meeting, the municipal council decided to go ahead with the library amphitheater project. The board voted 5-2 on the matter, with board members Kevin Muldoon and Marshall “Duffy” Duffield dissenting.

The total cost of the project was then estimated at $8 million.

The majority of Council members agreed that there was a lot of community support for the project, which would lead to the private funding aspect of the boardroom. Several also noted that the project was worthwhile because of the benefits it will bring to the community.

A visitor to the Newport Beach Public Library walks through the bamboo courtyard, near the future site of the proposed lecture hall. File photo by Sara Hall

During more than a dozen public meetings, the design committee guided Mr. Coffee in developing concept plans acceptable to the committee and the city council. Plans for the conference room are expected to go out for tender this fall.

The project will be financed by public and private sources. In accordance with an agreement between the City and the Foundation, the City will pay half and the Foundation will collect the rest. A fundraising campaign will soon be launched by the Foundation.

The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation funds valuable library resources, programs and services, and engages the community through the creation and sponsorship of diverse literary, cultural and intellectual programs. Established in 1989 as a collaborative public-private partnership with the City of Newport Beach, California, the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation has raised $2.2 million in private funds for the construction of the library center, demonstrating widespread community support for the library system.

Over the past decade, the Foundation has donated more than $7 million to fund programs, technologies and services for the 1.2 million people who use Newport Beach Library’s four branches each year.

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Angela C. Hale