Elevate Denver Bond Program

In November 2017, Denver voters overwhelmingly approved measure 2E, which provides $69.3 million to renovate the Denver Central Library and 10 branch libraries as part of the Elevate Denver Bond program.

Here you’ll find basic information on the library’s 11 bond-related projects as well as updates on construction and temporary closures. You can also visit the City’s Elevate Denver website for additional information about all Denver projects. 

The first debt issuance for Elevate Denver bonds allows the library to begin four of 11 scheduled projects. Each project has a design team, which includes representatives from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure selected architects and library staff.

News & Project Updates

Denver Central Library

Central Library in Downtown Denver

Designer: Studiotrope Design Collective 
General Contractor: GH Phipps 

The largest of the library projects, construction started at Central in 2020. During the pandemic, Central Library took this opportunity to move into the beginning phase of construction to take advantage of the library being closed to the public during this time. Construction is underway for the floors undergoing renovation - floors one through four which both have sections of the original Central Library built in 1955, and the expansion which took place in 1995 will be getting renovated. The Central Library opened the first floor to the public with limited in-person service starting in summer 2021. Construction will be ongoing through 2022.

Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library

​​graphic rendering showing first floor space, with imposed images of people in the room. ​​​​Designer: Handprint Architecture
General Contractor: Interlock Construction 

The design phase is complete and the branch is currently closed for renovation with plans to reopen to the public in early 2023. The first floor renovation will incorporate a new teen space, reimagined children's area, a new first floor staff workroom, a new front book drop and relocation of the circulation desk. There will be new public art installed on the first floor, which will feature the work of a local artist or a collective from the community.

 

Athmar Park Branch Library

Exterior shot of Athmar Park branch

Designer: Anderson Hallas Architects
General Contractor: TBD

This project is currently wrapping up design. There will be a focus on the neighborhood's need for
experiential space to keep youth engaged and learning while not in school or work, creating new and
expanded spaces for community gathering, technology access and programming, and addressing
critical building components, including water infiltration issues, surveillance/security and fire alarm
systems

Pauline-Robinson Branch Library

Exterior shot of Pauline Robinson Branch Library

Architecture Firm: Anderson Hallas Architects
General Contractor: TBD

This project is currently wrapping up design. The project will include: an increase in square footage to
reduce crowding and create spaces for learning, making, creating, meeting and collaborating,
addressing the neighborhood needs for safe, experiential spaces to keep youth engaged and learning
while not in school or work and to help foster increased literacy levels, and address major building
components to care for and protect this 22-year-old facility.  

Ross-Barnum Branch Library

Exterior shot of Ross-Barnum branch

Designer: Studiotrope Design Collective
General Contractor: TBD

This project is currently wrapping up design. The project will include: addressing critical system needs,
including surveillance and access control, electrical, data and power systems, creating new spaces for
learning, making, creating, meeting and collaborating, connecting non-English speaking residents
with materials, services and spaces that foster community building, and provide an experiential
space to keep youth engaged and learning while not in school or work. 

Schlessman Family Branch Library

Exterior shot of Schlessman Family branch

Architecture Firm: Studiotrope Design Collective
General Contractor: TBD

DPL is seeking community input for the upcoming Ross-Barnum Branch Library and Schlessman Family Branch Library renovations. Please visit the branches to provide your input. This remodel will bring necessary updates to our buildings, along with improved spaces for programs!  

 

Carnegie Libraries 

The renovations for these over century-year-old Carnegie libraries are complete. Because both of these buildings have similar architectural opportunities and challenges, we tackled their updates together. The library hosted community meetings in the summer of 2019 to gather input from customers and neighbors. Connecting with Denver residents and library users is essential in planning all of our renovations. 

John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library  

Exterior of John Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library

Designer: Studiotrope Design Collective
General Contractor: Interlock Construction

The library hosted community meetings in the summer of 2019 to gather input from customers and
neighbors. Through these discussions, we found that the John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. location
was in need of a space for youth to have access to educational support and activities and thus John
“Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library now has an amazing contemporary teen space. Another
highlight of the renovation is the restoration of a stairwell dating back to 1918. The stairwell will surely
be one of the many focal points inside this historic Carnegie library. 

Smiley Branch Library

Smiley Branch Library exteriorDesigner: Studiotrope Design Collective 
General Contractor: Interlock Construction

Smiley’s renovations include upgraded spaces such as an updated community room and a new study
room in the basement. Reflecting its Northwest Denver neighborhood’s aesthetic, Smiley features a
number of great architectural details, such as exposed brick in the front entrance and study room as well
as refinished original built-in wood shelving. The Smiley branch also has a new, more easily accessible
exterior book drop.

 

Elevate Denver Bond Renovations

Athmar Park Branch Library
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library
Denver Central Library
Eugene Field Branch Library
Pauline Robinson Branch Library
Ross-Barnum Branch Library
Ross-Broadway Branch Library
Ross-University Hills Branch Library
Smiley Branch Library
Schlessman Family Branch Library

Resources:
Activate! Denver Facilities Master Plan
Contracting opportunities
Elevate Denver Bond website
Media contact