Newport Beach City Council approves library lecture hall project plans, memorandum

A conceptual drawing of the interior of the auditorium for the proposed library lecture hall project.
(Courtesy of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation)
Share via

The Newport Beach City Council voted to approve final plans for the library lecture hall project, which has been in the works for the city and the supporters of its public library for years.

Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon dissented.

The project was last brought before the council during a study session in September, highlighting much-improved sight lines, audiovisual equipment and other new features such as a green room and improved storage compared to the Friends Room, which the library has used for its programming since 1994.

Supporters of the library lecture hall project claimed that the city has long outgrown the Friends Room. Library staff said in a report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting that annual participation in the library’s programming has increased from about 28,000 participants in 2009-10 to over 72,000 by 2018-19.


The library lecture hall is proposed to be about 9,500 square feet and estimated to cost $12.8 million, with the price to be split evenly between the city and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. City Council also approved a memorandum of understanding between the city and the foundation to do so.

Mayor Brad Avery described the city and the foundation’s relationship as strong and said he felt all parties involved understood the “goodness” of the project and what it would bring to residents and the people who use it.

“This is momentous,” said Councilwoman Diane Dixon, thanking committee chair Jill Johnson-Tucker and the committee at-large for their efforts in addition to that of city staff.

Dixon said the facility will be “an honor for the city and the residents of Newport Beach to have ... a public-private partnership in our total cost, hopefully to not exceed the $13 million we’ve just discussed.”

Dixon said she shares immense pride with the committee and the architect, who with council approval can now finalize plans. She added that fundraising for the lecture hall can begin.

“The bell can ring now. There is a real project that has been approved by this body, and they’re on their way,” said Dixon.

The project is expected to go out to bid next summer, depending on fundraising efforts from the foundation. Construction would begin in the winter of 2023 or spring of 2024.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.