Posts Tagged ‘Calgary library’

10,000 Square Foot New Library in Manhattan for $6.7 million?

March 28, 2010

I came across this in Sunday’s NY Times.  The article describes with much enthusiasm  the opening of a new public library in Battery Park City, a redeveloped residential area on the south-west tip of Manhattan.  The library, which looks stunning from the pictures, uses natural materials, abundant light, and achieved a LEED designation of sustainability.  What floored me however, was that this new facility was built for the sum of $6.7 million – I almost thought this was a typo at first, but maybe I have become to accustomed to the monster price tags attached to any new civic project here in Calgary ($500 million plus for a new performing arts centre, $400 million plus for a new central library).  I am all for city-building as I hope this blog attests to but I just don’t know how projects of this scope are dreamt up by the powers that be, and if they understand the futility of proposing them, certainly in the current economic and political environment.  It is possible to build interesting, well-designed and sustainable buildings for a reasonable price, and this should be the basis of engaging with the design and contracting community, along the lines of “dazzle us for what you can build for x dollars”, which might actually be close to amounts budgeted by public authorities and/or realizable by potential fund-raising campaigns.  Not “assume Calgary is Dubai circa 2004 and money is no object”.  The point of city-building is to actually get things built, not ugly things but as any architect will tell you, good design does not necessarily cost more, and not the things that you would want to incorporate into civic buildings, such as light, openness to the street, and conformity with the existing urban environment.  I am trying to make this perspective known in my own civic capacity, which may be futile but at least I have this outlet!

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