City of Newport Beach and Newport Beach Library Foundation Break Ground on Lecture Hall

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(L to R) Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Joe Stapleton, City Council Members Brad Avery, Robyn Grant, Noah Blom, Lauren Kleiman, and Erik Weigand break ground on the new Library Lecture Hall. Photo courtesy of City of Newport Beach.

Let the lectures commence!

Well, not quite yet, but the City of Newport Beach took the first step in building a new Library Lecture Hall when City Officials and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Central Library on Avocado Avenue to kick off construction of the lecture hall.

Members of the Newport Beach City Council were there, shovels in hand, to symbolically turn the dirt where the new Lecture Hall will be built adjacent to the main library.

The Lecture Hall, which will be named Witte Hall in recognition of a donation from Bill Witte and Keiko Sakamoto, is reported to cost $23.4 million and is being financed through a cost-sharing agreement between the City and the Foundation.

According to information from the city of Newport Beach, the 9,814-square-foot building is designed to complement the existing Central Library and City Hall architecture and will include tiered, stadium seating for 299 people. The new auditorium will host a variety of authors, speakers, lecturers and other events.

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill noted that the project took shape from a “push and pull of ideas” and “the hall itself will host views expressing nuance and wisdom.”

Lecture Hall Naming Donors (L to R): Foundation Founder Elizabeth Stahr and son Walter: The Stahr Courtyard; Keiko Sakamoto and Bill Witte: Witte Hall. Not pictured: Roy Woolsey: The Louise and Roy Woolsey Memorial Lobby.

Jill Johnson-Tucker, chair of the lecture hall design committee and chair of the “Beyond Books” fundraising campaign for the lecture hall, said the new facility will “reflect the pride that this community holds for the library and Civic Center complex,” and will fulfill the Library’s mission as the cultural, educational and informational heart of our city.

In early January the City approved a $19-million contract with AMG & Associates Inc., of Santa Clarita, to build the facility.

Construction of the lecture hall is expected to take about 21 months (depending on weather and other factors). Completion date is anticipated to be early 2026.

The City is advising Central Library patrons that parking will be significantly reduced for the duration of construction. If parking is not available in the lot in front of the main entrance, patrons are encouraged to utilize the Civic Center parking structure at 100 Civic Center Dr., with convenient access to the library’s north-facing entrance near City Hall.

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