The design team embraced the city’s diverse urban culture and unique climate, striving to create the right library for Calgary by establishing a vibrant, welcoming and accessible public space in the heart of this rapidly expanding metropolis.
Inspired by the nearby foothills, the site is transformed into a terraced topography that rises up and over the existing Light Rail Transit Line crossing the site.
The lifted library, with an open entry at the heart of the site, allows for a visual and pedestrian connection between East Village and Calgary’s downtown. The entry, framed by the wood-clad arches that reference the ‘chinook’ arch cloud formations common to Alberta, becomes a gateway to neighbouring communities and provide some new outdoor civic spaces within the city.
Upon entering the library, visitors encounter a lobby awash with natural light. Your eye is drawn up through the sky lit atrium where clear visibility of the library’s public program and circulation along the atrium’s perimeter serve as a wayfinding strategy from the main entrance and on each floor.
The Library program is organized on a spectrum, starting with more engaging public programs on the ground floors, and spiralling up to quieter, focused study areas on the third and fourth floors.
The façade utilizes a unique geometry and distribution of clear and fritted glass openings to control desired daylight levels for the interior spaces. Dramatic, highly transparent zones attract public interest to activities inside, while closed areas provide more focused study spaces.
The encapsulation of the existing Light Trail Train is currently underway, and the new Calgary Public Library is expected to be completed in 2018.
Photo credits: Snøhetta