Brenda Hayes-Bright (919) 560-7991, Primary Project Manager

Peri Manns, ASLA (919) 560-7996, Secondary Project Manager


Project Description

History:  The Main Library building on N. Roxboro Street opened in 1980.  As Durham's population grew and technology developed, the facility became too small to adequately serve our needs, and structural restrictions made technological upgrades increasingly difficult or impossible to implement.  The building presented challenges in operation and visibility due to its inward-focused design, dual entries, and lack of connection between the multiple building floors.

The renovation of the Main Library is the final step of the regional library plan implemented by the County Commissioners more than ten years ago. 

The Library is now closed in anticipation of the transformation process.

A New Chapter:  The Main Library's new design reflects the spirit of our vibrant, diverse community.  The construction scope includes a total removal of the existing building exterior and interior materials, replacement of all major building systems, addition of a fire protection system, a complete reconfiguration of the interior, and the creation of a new fourth story on the building. The size will increase from 65,000 square feet to almost 85,000 square feet, and have flexibility to accommodate changing future needs.  The exterior envelope will be replaced with a new metal panel and curtain wall system that meets current energy performance standards, and will transform the entire exterior appearance.  Large expanses of glass will provide natural light and connect the indoors to the outdoors.  Energy-efficient building components and systems will provide a comfortable, healthy indoor environment and reduce operating costs.  Infrastructure to support both current and future technological innovations will be installed.  In accordance with Durham County's commitment to environmental responsibility, this building will be LEED certified.

As part of the project, the site will be redeveloped to create vibrant outdoor activity areas. The existing plaza on the west side (parking lot) will be removed and regraded to create a large outdoor program space. A new plaza will be created along Liberty Street to link the library to its major intersection at North Roxboro Street, and the new main entrance will face Liberty Street.   New parking areas to the west will emphasize the connection of the library to downtown and the adjacent residential areas.

RFQ 19-016 PUBLIC ART at the Main Library


The County of Durham, North Carolina is seeking artists or artist teams (“Candidates”) to design, fabricate, and install permanent public artwork at the Durham County Main Library currently under construction. Candidates should have experience creating public art that fosters a unique sense of place. The Main Library is located on approximately 4 acres on North Roxboro Street between Liberty Street and Holloway Street, and is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2019 (Exhibit A).

The main entrance to the Library is from the Liberty Street side.  Two areas have been identified for Public Art. The first area identified for Public Art is at the intersection of North Roxboro and Liberty Streets.  Adjacent to this corner is a large entry plaza with bench seating which provides a unique opportunity for engagement and interaction with the Public.  The second area is inside the Library is directly across from the main entrance along the monumental stair wall (Exhibit B). These installations will be highly visible to all pedestrians, passing traffic and visitors to the Library and downtown Durham.

The total budget for this Public Art project is $100,000. This allocation is inclusive of all costs associated with this project, including materials, equipment, labor, permits, engineering documents, insurance, taxes, travel, installation, shipping, identification plaque, maintenance instructions document, and written and professional photographic documentation of the completed project.

Durham County defines Public Art as original visual art including, but not limited to, sculptures, murals, photographic renderings, mosaics, lighting and electronic art installations installed on a permanent basis in spaces which are visible from public streets and pedestrian walkways, free of any admission fee, through a public process providing opportunity for community input.  Commissioned artwork should be respectful of the values and mission of Durham County and its Library system. The work should be culturally responsive and make visible strides to engage with and connect to the public by activating and enhancing the facility’s grounds. Interested Candidates should be mindful of the operational activities and regular daily use of the facility and seek to create an inviting civic statement that welcomes visitors, building staff, and passersby.

Click here to download the RFQ and Exhibits

RFQ 19-016 - Public Art at the Main Library012519 (002)


Additional Project Information - MWBE Outreach

Durham County is dedicated to diversity and inclusion in our community, our employees, and the outside firms with whom we do business. This project includes an Outreach effort for construction subcontractors and vendors that can be accessed here.


300 North Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27701 Map

Team Members

Design Team
   Architect: Vines Architecture, Inc.
   PM&E: Stanford White
   Civil/Landscape: Coulter Jewell Thames, PA
   Structural: Stewart
   Audio/Visual: The Sextant Group
   Construction Materials Testing: Falcon Engineering
   Fundamental Commissioning: SEDC Engineering, dba NV5

Construction Team
   Construction Manager at Risk: Skanska /Holt Brothers

Project Budget


Current Phase:


Expected Completion

Summer 2020


How long will the Library be closed?

The Library is expected to re-open in summer of 2020.  You can check this page for periodic updates during the transformation process.

Why will construction take so long?

The transformed Library building will be completely different from the old building.  Everything except the building's structural skeleton will be demolished, and a new floor will be added. When the transformation is complete, everything but the original columns and beams will be brand new.  The Library's programming will be new, too.

Where can I go while the Main Library is closed?

Downtown Library Without Walls will serve the community in downtown Durham while Main Library is transformed. Downtown Library Without Walls is an expansive array of inclusive outreach programs, initiatives and locations.  Click here to find computers, programs, and library materials.

Click here for a map of branch library locations 

Where did everyone go?

Library Administration personnel are temporarily located at 101 East Morgan Street (the old Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.)  Library Staff have relocated to various branch locations. 

The Library is closed for renovations but I don't see much happening.  Why?

So much has to occur before we can actually start seeing the big transformation we're all waiting for.  Over 200,000 volumes of reading materials had to be carefully packed (in their proper order) and moved to climate-controlled storage to prevent damage.  Some collections still need to be accessible so those were relocated to Northgate instead of being stored.  Many loads of furnishings and equipment had to find new or temporary homes before there was room for the contractors.  Durham County General Services is removing and storing some built-in items that can be re-used in other County buildings.  Engineers are performing extensive structural analyses and testing for hazardous materials.  It's a lot of work and there has been good progress.  Here are some examples.

 Book Storagemaker's lab

 nc collection20170411_094225


 LIBERTY-NEW with text





MAIN-STAIR with text



Coming soon - Construction Photos