The City Council is considering the latest plan for the Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall project



A proposed library lecture theater project returned to the Newport Beach City Council podium for discussion on Tuesday after nearly two years of conceptual development by the committee.

Final discussions on the project took place in November 2019 when the city council first inspected the lecture hall and gave direction to city staff and the library lecture hall design committee, hiring advisor and Newport Beach architect, Bob Coffee .

At that time, the proposal was for a 7,000 square meter, single-story auditorium with fixed auditorium-style seating for at least 275 people and a room for 50 portable overflow seats. It would also include a ticket office, lobby, kitchen, “green room”, audiovisual control room and toilets, as well as a sloping floor for improved sight lines and advanced audiovisual equipment.

It is to be located next to the library courtyard and in the immediate vicinity of the offices of the library staff and the friends’ room, which opened in 1994 with the central library.

Committee chair Jill Johnson-Tucker said estimates of the size and scope of the library’s proposed lecture hall are now approximately 9,514 square feet, although the number of permanent seats is expected to remain the same. However, the number of portable seats has been halved. Johnson-Tucker said this was for regulatory reasons and in response to requests from the committee to design the building in such a way that it would limit line-of-sight restrictions.

A concept drawing of the interior of the auditorium for the planned library project.

(Courtesy Newport Beach Public Library Foundation)

Original plans were to take into account the maximum allowable slope under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but research into other lecture halls showed that slopes would not maximize lines of sight.

As a result, the committee called for shallow steps to be included in the plan. In addition, ramps, entrances to the seats in the front, back and in the middle of the hall as well as a small elevator were required, which increased the square footage of the building.

“But there won’t be a bad place in the house and it would be a shame to build this room to correct the bad sight lines in the friends room only to still have mediocre sight lines,” said Johnson-Tucker.

Still largely expected to include a ticket office, kitchen, restrooms, and other amenities sought after on the initial proposal that aren’t present in the 2,646-square-foot Friends Room. Proponents of the plan say they have outgrown the space and that better lines of sight and audiovisual systems are needed.

“The need for programming is a growth area in libraries nationwide and our library system is no exception. In 2009 and 2010, 28,000 people participated in programs in the libraries. In 2018 and ’19 that number rose to 70,000, “Johnson-Tucker said in Tuesday’s presentation.

A concept drawing for the exterior of the planned Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall project.

A concept drawing for the exterior of the planned Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall project.

(Courtesy Newport Beach Public Library Foundation)

“And of the six peer libraries in the state of California that have similar populations and budgets to our library system – we are the only ones without an auditorium and classroom, although I dare say we” are the most robustly programmed ” said Johnson-Tucker.

Public Works Director Dave Webb said no action would be taken given the matter coming to the council as the subject of the study session, but if the city council liked the design, the city staff would make it formal as soon as possible Return authorization. However, Webb said construction is still a long way from being able to bid.

Webb said the original, preliminary design was valued at about $ 8 million in 2019, while the current concept costs about $ 12.8 million. However, it is unclear what the estimated total cost will be until the building is officially designed.

Alderman Will O’Neill said he and Mayor Brad Avery, who worked with the committee on the project, felt the issue should be brought back for discussion on Tuesday because of the potential costs associated with the MoU.

“I think it’s a great time to be doing this … the economy has been strong. Our earnings have been strong and 50% off every time we get a great project [because the city is sharing the cost of the project with the library foundation]I find it extraordinary that we have this kind of support in this community, ”said Avery. He added that this type of project is one that “definitely brings people together”.

The Newport Beach Central Library on Avocado Street on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

The Newport Beach Central Library on Avocado Street on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. The proposal to build an auditorium at the library is from 2019.

(Don Leach / employee photographer)

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