Learn, Read, Play, Relax
By Anna Guy
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” – Albert Einstein
Calgarians will soon have a library worthy of one of North America’s greatest cities. The New Central Library (NCL), located in Calgary’s East Village, is 240,000-square-feet of functional, flexible, beautifully designed space. The NCL is a friendly city icon that invites all Calgarians to gather, learn, read, play, be challenged, relax and connect and, along with Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, is an important civic institution and architectural icon within the East Village community.
On November 1, 2018, the public will be able to take their first steps through the new, $245 million LEED Gold project, “We intend that day to be a large public celebration alongside the Calgary Public Library and the first opportunity for Calgarians to experience the New Central Library,” says Kate Thompson, Vice Presidents of Projects for Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).
In keeping with the vision of a library for the people, construction on the New Central Library began in 2013 with the LRT encapsulation, and since that time the public have been able to keep track of the construction through a live stream webcam on the CMLC website.
An Iconic Building
“Our (CMLC) goal with the design and building of the New Central Library is that it not only creates a beautiful building but is equally balanced with how its design can facilitate the library experience for all its visitors,” says Thompson. “The New Central Library will have a transformative power for Calgary in creating an iconic, civic amenity that is accessible for everyone to enjoy. We are very proud to bring the building to Calgarians and residents of East Village who have this wonderful amenity now on their doorstep.”
CMLC proudly states the library will have “something for everyone” and is to be a gathering place for the city. Free meeting spaces, an Early Learning Centre for children, a space for teens that includes gaming stations and audio-visual equipment, a 350-seat Performance Hall, and the TD Great Reading Room are all unique features designed to appeal to young and old.
“The library design addresses various ages, agility, and heights,” adds Thompson. “We have glass railings that allow those in wheelchairs or strollers to see into the atrium, we have a children’s play area, and we have a place for reflection and silence in the Great Reading room. The design really allows for everyone to find their special place and enjoy what the library can offer.”
The NCL Project is unique in so many respects, says Thompson, not the least of which is the fact that was built over an active train line. “This will be experienced as people walk up over the train and into the front doors, which are above the new train tunnel that we needed to build. We have sloped sidewalks that gently rise and over the train tunnel as well, which will provide accessibility for everyone including the youngest Library visitors in strollers.”
Highly Anticipated Architecture
Architecturally, the New Central Library is one of the most anticipated buildings of 2018. But don’t just take my word for it: Architectural Digest also says the same.
The library was designed by DIALOG and Snohetta after an extensive international search for the right team and has already been awarded the received the Great City, Great Design award by the magazine. “The ambitions for this signature piece of Municipal Infrastructure were high and the design team rose to the challenge,” says Thompson. “The complicated site became a design inspiration and is the reason that the building shape follows the curve of the train below. It is so rare that a piece of outstanding architecture is open for everyone to explore, for free. This will allow so many Calgarians to experience a unique type of building and see what it looks like to push boundaries in architecture.”
Adds the DIALOG team, “The library will strengthen the fabric of community life by weaving East Village, the original heart of Calgary, back into the story of Centre City. Plus, this is the first time in Calgary’s history that an active LRT line has been encased in an above-grade development project. We’re pretty proud to be a part of it.”
Indeed, legacy projects such as this come about once in a lifetime. On behalf of the CMLC, Thompson says, “We all feel extremely privileged to work on this project. This is a project that I have nurtured for six years and I am very proud to point out all its details to my family as they have watched it come together over the years. This experience will be hard to top.”
This project will be an enduring legacy for Calgary and myself and many others on the team, will be very proud to open it up for all of Calgary to experience.”