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New downtown BR library offers cafe, meeting space, technology

Downtown facility offers cafe, ‘technology wall’


The “library of the future" envisioned in downtown Baton Rouge features a first-floor cafe, a rooftop terrace, spacious conference rooms and an exterior “technology wall" that could be used to show movies to crowds gathering in Galvez Plaza.

The $19 million remake of the River Center Branch Library will also offer advanced technology, an entire floor dedicated to children and an abundance of windows with “stunning" views of the Mississippi River and the North Boulevard Town Square, architect Rex Cabaniss said.

“We wanted to take advantage of this very unique urban area," Cabaniss said, adding the approximately 50,000-square-foot building will, in many ways, be “the opposite" of what it is now. “There's nothing else quite like it in Baton Rouge."

Lauding those plans, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control eagerly approved a schematic design Cabaniss presented Thursday evening. Several members of the public, including many who live and work downtown, expressed excitement upon seeing the computer renderings.

“There are so many people that have been looking forward to this," Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker said. “The functionality of the building, I think, is phenomenal."

Chris Nichols, of the Downtown Development District, said her organization is particularly pleased with the large amount of meeting space planned for the fourth floor.

“This is critically important as a symbol of the forward, progressive thinking Baton Rouge that I believe is a beacon to our entire state,” Nichols said. “This is not to be blown off. We need the rest of the world to understand how bright, sincere and committed we are to the education of our people.”

– Chris Nichols