In 1989 San Antonio voters approved a $28 million bond to build the new Central Library on the site of the former Sears Building; an additional $10 million was raised by the Library Foundation from public and private funding and donations. These funds allowed for upgrades to the Library to create murals and art, add new computer equipment, purchase new materials, purchase durable furniture, and update the parking garage.
As the result of the architectural design competition in July of 1991, the design team of renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta in partnership with Sprinkle Robey Architects and Johnson-Dempsey & Associates of San Antonio were selected. Legorreta is known internationally, designing buildings that include the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Monterey and the Managua Cathedral in Nicaragua.
Construction began on July 1993 and the Central Library opened to the public on May 20, 1995, with six above-ground floors and seating capacity for 1,300.The bright-colored, 240,000 SF Library is a bold departure from traditional library design, and has changed the face of downtown San Antonio. Interior designs were done by the San Antonio firm of Ford, Powell and Carson, Inc., with many of the pieces created especially for this Library. Light, color, walls, water, humor and conscience are the palette used by Ricardo Legorreta to produce the design for the new Central Library. This design promotes the idea of the Library as a place to gather, relax and enjoy the world of ideas collected in print and online, from books and magazines to music, movies and downloadable resources.