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February 20, 2018


Central Library : Construction Facts & Timeline

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Construction Fact Sheet and Timeline

Central Library: Libraries for All Construction Fact Sheet


Project description: Replace existing library

  • Replace the 206,000-square-foot library, which opened in 1960, on the existing location at 1000 Fourth Ave.
  • The Central Library has: an expanded collection capacity of 1.45 million books and materials; 11 floors; underground parking; spacious areas for children and young adults; a four-level "books spiral" to house the bulk of the nonfiction collection in a continuous run; an auditorium; a floor called the "mixing chamber" that contains information desks where patrons can ask librarians for help; multilingual and English-as-a-Second-Language areas; a coffee cart; and an exterior "skin" of insulated glass on a steel structure.
  • A 130,000-square-foot temporary facility at 800 Pike St. in the expanded Washington State Convention and Trade Center opened July 7, 2001, and closed April 30, 2004.


Quick facts

  • Project type: Replace existing library
  • Completion date: 2004
  • Budget for capital costs: $165.9 million (includes $10 million for the temporary Central Library)
  • Total library program area: 362,987 square feet (formerly 206,000 square feet)
  • Computers: 400 (formerly 75)
  • Central Library Building Committee Library Board members: Gilbert W. Anderson and Linda Larson
  • Architects: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, LMN Architects
  • Contractor: Hoffman Construction Co.



  • July 2004: The Seattle Public Library board of trustees selected a third artist to create permanent artwork as part of the "Library Unbound" project.
  • May 2004: The Central Library opened at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 23. Nearly 26,000 people visited the building on its first day of operation.
  • January 2004: Glass exterior installation completed. Overall construction 91 percent completed. The Library Board selected two artists to create permanent artwork as part of the "Library Unbound" project.
  • November 2003: The Central Library received its first award — a Steel Design Award of Excellence from the British Columbia Region of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction for innovative use of steel.
  • June 2003: The Library Board selected four artists to present proposals for permanent artworks as part of the "Library Unbound" project.
  • May 2003: On May 7, workers raised the last piece of structural steel (a four-ton piece of seismic grid steel) topped by the traditional tree and American flag. Construction 50 percent completed.
  • December 2002: Steel erection began. The steel structure will support the insulated glass and metal mesh exterior "skin." Subcontractor bidding substantially completed.
  • October 2002: Concrete structure completed. Permitting completed.
  • July 2002: Construction 13 percent completed.
  • April 2002: Excavation and shoring work completed.
  • March 2002: Construction documents completed.
  • October 2001: Construction crews finished salvaging and recycling interior materials.
  • September 2001: Contractors finished removing asbestos and other hazardous materials.
  • August 2001: Contractors completed the final landscape removal plan, the first visible sign of the start of demolition.
  • June 8, 2001: The existing Central Library at 1000 Fourth Ave. closed for good to make way for construction of a bold and exciting new facility. The Library began moving its books and materials to a temporary location at 800 Pike St.
  • May 2001: Hundreds of people attended an open house to see images of the final design of the new library and learn more about how the innovative building will look and function.
  • March 2001: The Library and its architects finished the design of the new Central Library.
  • February 2001: William B. Meyer Inc. was hired to move the books, furniture and equipment from the Central Library to temporary quarters at 800 Pike St.
  • Throughout 2000: Members of 37 Library staff work groups gave architects feedback on the library design.
  • December 2000: The Library Board selected four artists to propose artwork to be integrated into the new library.
  • September 2000: Library users tested mock-ups of two "books spiral" floor designs to house the library's nonfiction collection in a continuous run. The Library Board selected Jessica Cusick and Rick Lowe to be art planners, following the recommendation of an advisory committee that evaluated 14 applications.
  • May 2000: Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture reviewed progress on the library design for 1,500 people at a public presentation at Benaroya Hall. The Library Board selected Hoffman Construction Co. to be general contractor/construction manager. Four firms applied for the job.
  • January 2000: Members of the public joined 10 work groups - including services for children, older adults, young adults and people with disabilities - to share their hopes and dreams for the new library.
  • December 1999: More than 1,000 people attended public events at which architect Rem Koolhaas described his early vision for the library.
  • May 1999: The Library Board selected architect Rem Koolhaas and Seattle-based LMN Architects to jointly design the new library after 1,700 people attended presentations put on by three finalists. An advisory panel reviewed the qualifications of the 29 firms that applied for the job. The Library selected The Seneca Group to be project manager. Ten firms applied for the job.
  • November 1998: Seattle voters approved the $196.4 million "Libraries for All" bond measure. The bond money, which could be used only for construction of libraries, funded a new Central Library and new and improved branches.
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Central Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104



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