REDMOND — A proposed new library in Bend and redesigned libraries throughout Deschutes County moved closer to reality Wednesday when the Deschutes Public Library board unanimously agreed to give Group 4 Architecture up to $448,000 to create conceptual designs of the projects.

Library Director Todd Dunkelberg said Group 4, based near San Francisco, will not only make conceptual designs for a 95,000-square-foot proposed new library in Bend, but also for renovating existing libraries in downtown Bend, Sisters, La Pine and Sunriver, and either an expansion or replacement of the Redmond Public Library. These plans for the library system’s future were unveiled in December with its facilities capital plan.

According to Dunkelberg, six different architecture firms bid to work with the library system, but they chose Group 4 for its previous experience working with libraries, as well as having a smaller price tag.

Group 4 will be partnering with Portland-based Hennebery Eddy Architects, which has built many small libraries in Multnomah County of similar size to the libraries in La Pine, Sunriver and Sisters, Dunkelberg said.

According to library documents, $338,000 will go toward Group 4 creating the conceptual design visualizations and cost estimates, as well as hosting six community meetings throughout Deschutes County. The library board also agreed to spend up to an additional $100,000 for extra services, including polling the public, traffic studies, landscape design and holding additional open houses.

At the board meeting at the Redmond library Wednesday, Dunkelberg said community engagement was “incredibly important” to the design process.

“Continuing to have those conversations with the public, having (Group 4) refine their designs and bring them back to the public, that will be a big piece as well,” he said.

The library system’s goal is to have the conceptual designs finished by October, Dunkelberg said. Public forums should be held around that time, but Dunkelberg and Group 4 will meet in May to develop a more firm timeline, according to Lynne ­Mildenstein, the library system’s assistant director.

Multiple board members said they were excited to work with Group 4 and that they found the firm’s plan impressive.

“I thought that this proposal was extremely complete. It really indicated a good, in-depth understanding of what we were trying to accomplish,” said board member Ann Malkin. “I think the team they assembled really has the capabilities to get the results that we want.”

Group 4 previously worked with Deschutes Public Library in developing the library system’s facilities capital plan.

The location of the new library is yet to be determined, but its estimated cost is between $74.6 million and $90.4 million. Library officials say a new Bend library and expansions and/or renovations to many other libraries around Deschutes County are needed because of anticipated population growth in the region.

The Deschutes Public Library system serves more than 2,300 people on an average day. Those visitors check out more than 6,100 items, a third of which are children’s materials.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854,