Main Library Project


Library Project

Status: Construction in Progress
Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2024
Improvement Category: Multiple Improvements
Planning Zone: Central
Estimated Investment: $39.8 million

  • New Roof - North Building: $1.2 million
  • Energy Retrofit - South Building: $4.8 million
  • South Building Skylight and Elevator Replacement: $3.1 million
  • North Plaza Redesign, South Plaza Redesign and Interior Refresh: $30.7 million

Architect: Group 4 Architecture & Champlin Architecture
Construction Manager at Risk: Turner Construction

The Downtown Main Library's North Building remains open for library service during construction on the South Building. Learn where to find services and materials during construction.

Interested in more details? Read the project updates.

At 540,000 square feet, the Downtown Main Library is the Library's flagship location, accounting for about half of the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library's public space. In December 2017, the Library Board of Trustees confirmed the desire to retain the Downtown Main Library's North Building, and to have both buildings of the Downtown Main Library re-envisioned to better meet customer needs. Improvement information is contained in the Central Planning Zone Facility Master Plan Document.

The Main Library's South Building is closed for the duration of the project. Visit the Downtown Main Library's North Building for materials and services.

Main Library Plaza Redesign and Interior Refresh

Designed by Group 4 Architecture + Champlin Architecture, the Downtown Main Library renovation injects the cultural and geographic landscapes of Cincinnati and Hamilton County into the existing mid-century modern buildings.

  • The plaza walls in both the South and North Plazas have been removed and the South Plaza has been lowered to street level to create a safer and more welcoming Vine St. entrance.
  • Portions of the interior of the library will receive a light renovation.
  • The new, at-grade South Plaza and large glass curtain wall will welcome library users to the revitalized atrium. The design will express the wonderful range of library spaces within. Upon entering the atrium, an inviting and warm social stair will knit together the Walnut Street and Vine Street entrances while providing a range of seating opportunities for individuals, small groups, and large events. Inspired by the hills of Cincinnati, this welcoming design provides new amenities and gathering spaces, as well as an intuitive connection to the upper floors of the library, accessed through a new stair extending from the second floor upwards.

Skylight and Elevator Replacement

In 2021, crews replaced the South Building atrium skylight. Throughout 2022, crews replaced several elevators throughout the Downtown Main Library.

Energy Retrofit and Roof Replacement

The heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) and electrical systems in the South Building - built in the 1950s - were updated in 2020. This project included the replacement of original boilers with three new boilers, upgrades to the cooling system, adding 14 new air handlers, the addition of a fire suppression system, and improvements to the electrical system. The roof of the North Building was replaced in 2019. The South Building roof was replaced recently, providing a completely updated roofing system for the entire 540,000 square foot building.

Take a closer look at the Energy Retrofit project from start to finish through August, opens a new window, September, opens a new window, October, opens a new window, November, opens a new window, and December, opens a new window 2019 update videos.

Construction Gallery

Project Updates

Community Presentations

Blog Posts

Downtown Main Library Next Generation Library Blog Posts

Now Open! Your Guide to the Main Library's New North Plaza

Get insider tips for CHPL’s newest event space outside the Downtown Main Library.

More Improvements Coming to the Downtown Main Library

The Downtown Main Library is transforming with new spaces to explore, designed to encourage discoveries and foster community connections.

Main Library’s South Building Closes for Transformation

The North Building will provide materials and services to customers during the Main Library renovation.

Major Improvements Coming to the Downtown Main Library

Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director Paula Brehm-Heeger shares the Downtown Main Library's major building improvement project.

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