Center for Arts & History

Entry Plaza at River Street
Design concept by Safdie Architects

Home to a new 21st-century Main Library, Center for Arts & History, and shared event space, Boise’s library campus will serve as a public center for knowledge, culture, and ideas. It will be a gateway to the city, but also a gateway to our history, to new experiences, and to the ideas that shape our future. Its spaces and services, located in the heart of Boise’s Cultural District, will be available to anyone, yet distinct to our corner of the world.

Project Goals
Project Timeline
Open Houses

Project Goals

  1. DESIGN a modern and innovative new Main Library, Boise Center for Arts & History, and shared event space that serves as an iconic gateway to the city of Boise.
  2. CREATE a public gathering space for Boiseans and a destination for out-of-town visitors.
  3. Serve as a CONNECTION point—a public center for knowledge, culture, and ideas in Boise, physically linking the city’s cultural, natural/recreational, and educational resources (the Cultural District, Boise State University Campus, Boise River, Greenbelt and Julia Davis Park).
  4. Develop a SUSTAINABLE facility that meets city energy goals, and demonstrates a commitment to community health and public involvement.
  5. Complete project within the parameters of capital and operational budgets.


A 21st Century Library! 

Approx. 115,000 sq. ft.

To keep pace with evolving library practice and meet the needs of a growing population, the new Main Library will be built on access, innovation, and knowledge acquisition and application.

Center for Arts & History

Approx. 22,000 sq. ft.

Community Value

Administered by Boise's award-winning Department of Arts & History, the Center will focus on the community to:

What's in it?

Event Space

Approx. 18,000 sq. ft.

In 2017, the City of Boise worked with AMS Planning & Research to conduct a feasibility study for a performing arts facility in Downtown Boise. Through input received from 35 stakeholders, including leading arts and cultural organizations in the area, expectations were identified for a facility that is:

The emerging design implications resulted in a changeable configuration able to seat approx. 300 to meet the greatest number of projected use days and a diversity of forms and styles.


Safdie Architects

Safdie Architects is an architecture and urban design studio imbued with a spirit of idealism and innovation. The practice is research-oriented and forward thinking, drawing upon a depth of experience to solve contemporary building challenges in imaginative and unexpected ways.

Based in Boston, with offices around the world, Safdie Architects is active in a wide variety of project types, scales and sectors, designing museums, cultural centers, libraries, and master plans in geographically and culturally-diverse places. The studio’s projects around the world have become beloved resources and symbols of their communities as well as regional and national landmarks. Recent library and civic projects include the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Vancouver Library Square.


CSHQA is an award-winning design firm specializing in full-service architecture and engineering, interior and environmental design, landscape architecture, telecommunications, and building forensic services. The firm designs civic, education, multi-family, commercial, retail, hospitality, aviation and healthcare projects and serves clients in all 50 states with offices in Boise, Denver, and Sacramento.


Spring 2017

Winter – Spring 2018 

Summer 2018 – Fall 2019

Fall 2019 – 2021


Open Houses

Monday, July 16: Library! at Bown Crossing, Martie Brennan Room, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 17: Library! at Cole & Ustick, Sagebrush Room, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 18: Library! at Hillcrest, Lemhi Room, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 19: Library! at Collister, Sycamore Room, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 20: Main Library, Hayes Auditorium, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.


Why now?

Originally built as a hardware warehouse in the 1940s, the current Main Library was converted to a library in 1973. With increased attendance and program participation, the building no longer meets the needs of a growing population or keeps pace with the ever-evolving programming, technology and services of a modern-day library. At the same time, the Boise City Department of Arts & History, as a catalyst for bringing people together through a variety of cultural offerings, is not immediately accessible to the public in its current location. Together with the Library, a Center for Arts & History will anchor and strengthen the vitality of the Cultural District with a dedicated space for local arts, history, cultural resources and programming.    

What about cost/financing?

The project budget is $80-85M and be financed as follows:

What about parking?

The design goal includes parking for approximately 300 spaces. The library currently has 102. The project team is working on a combined solution that includes both on and off-site parking.

Why include the Event Space?

Through competitive inventory observations conducted by AMS Planning & Research, no one venue has the desired blend of accessibility, sense of occasion, and technical capabilities in Boise. The performing arts sector has great interest in modern technical and acoustic features, but its ability to increase rental fees or other venue costs to upgrade is limited. By the same token, quality user and audience experience is of rising interest, with emphasis on sense of occasion for participants of varying ages, abilities and means. A financially accessible space, accommodating to a variety of disciplines, delivering quality experience and appropriately sized for users has generated the most interest and meets the greatest need. 

What’s next?

The Library and Arts & History will host a series of Open Houses in July and September of 2018, with opportunity to comment online. The public will have the opportunity to follow the project through opening in 2021. Visit our Events calendar or head to for details.