California's Broke, But San Diego's Getting a New Library

San Diego is getting a new expensive main library. The City Council took an historic vote last night to go ahead with construction of a new central library downtown.

Anyone who has lived in San Diego for a while knows that the dream of a new central library has been in and out of the news for years. The architect, Rob Quigely, designed its imposing dome shape in the 1990s. The site on Park Boulevard in the East Village was chosen a decade later, and now, finally, a contract will be signed to break ground. The First phase is estimated to cost about $150 million.

Mayor Jerry Sanders reminded the city council that $17 million has already gone into planning and well over $100 million has been scraped together so far to build it. Another $32 million is required to finish the job. Without that, the doors won’t be able to open in 2014, the state mandated deadline. The vote was not unanimous.

“We’ve invested nearly 20 years into planning for this new central library,” Sanders said. “As you make your decision, I want to remind you that not one cent of this project’s funding can be used for other city services. It can’t be used for branch libraries, can’t put additional police or firefighters on the streets, and it can’t be used to fix potholes.


A little editorializing there?

Given the size of San Diego and the costs of construction in California, I'd be hard-pressed to automatically assume that the price tag for that library, with a very large portion of the sum coming from private donors, is at all out of line. And I don't see the word "expensive" in the headline of the story cited...

The new library will be MUCH bigger than what is there now. Where will the staff needed come from? The "staff fairy?" Or will they be pulled from other branches in the system? Given the budget mess I don't believe they can add staff.

I don't wish ill to any city or any library system, but that is one ugly building design. If I were a San Diegan, I would protest merely on aesthetic grounds.

I personally like the design.

Everyone has an opinion on architecture -- as they are entitled. But, just because you do not like the design, it does not mean no one does or that it is not functional or appropriate for a location. I remember everyone bemoaning the design of the Seattle downtown library when it was revealed. I too had my questions. Today, that library is a true tourist attraction and beautifully integrated into the city. The design of San Diego's library was choosen following an international competition and was thoroughly vetted. If you think it is ugly when it is finally built, so be it. But, I doubt you will.

Both the Seattle and the Minneapolis downtown libraries had significant functional issues. Design is totally another issue, and one which architects usually favor (especially if front line staff are not included in the planning process, or their input is disregarded).

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