Auditorium Considered for Central Library

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A proposed auditorium for the Newport Beach Central Library, at 1000 Avocado Ave., has taken another step forward.

The proposed building, which would hold lectures and other events, has been on and off the wish list of the library’s Board of Trustees for over five years, and is finally making significant headway.

The board, along with library staff, is working with architect Robert R. Coffee in determining the feasibility of a such a structure.

Based in Corona del Mar, Coffee’s past works include OASIS Senior Center and the auditorium at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.  

Last month, Coffee took Foundation members and city staff to the auditorium he designed for the San Diego Public Library. He’ll hear comments from Mayor Diane Dixon and the Department of Public Works in December before his recommendations are finalized

The biggest issue is what the library site lacks: Space. An auditorium would need to have a small footprint and not eliminate too many parking spots in the already-crowded library lot.

Jill Johnson-Tucker, chair of the Library Board of Trustees, revealed on Monday that the area along Avocado Avenue is being considered for the auditorium. Its proximity to the Friends of the Library room would be ideal for post-event receptions.

“It’s the only place that works well,” she noted.

If an auditorium can fit along the Avocado Avenue site, the next step would be to form an architectural committee and set plans for the board to vote on in early 2017.

Funding may also be an obstacle, as the city has thus far only agreed to cover the costs of architectural plans, not actual construction. The Arts Commission has been asking for a venue like this near the central library site for many years. The library is already a primary destination for musical, artistic, and literary events in the area.

“I believe it is the cultural heart of the city,” remarked Tim Hetherton, director of library services.

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