Calgary Central Library

Building community connection

Civic & Culture

Designed in association with Snohetta, the Calgary Central Library exemplifies the desire to create a long-lasting, enjoyable, viable resource for the people and guests of Calgary. As the city’s largest public investment since the 1988 Olympics, the library signals the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the city, one centered on the creation and innovation of knowledge and culture, rather than the consumption of it.

The new building provides spaces for all types of people and activities—for social interaction and exchange, for studying and learning, for quiet and introspection—championing the unique civic function that libraries provide today.

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Location
Calgary, AB
Client
Calgary Municipal Land Corporation
Completion
2018
Collaborators

Entuitive
MIG – Portico Group
Snøhetta
IB Jensen Masonry Ltd
Stebnicki Mah Partners

Stuart Olson Construction

SMP Engineering

DIALOG Services

Architecture
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Mechanical Engineering

Inviting Space

The dynamic façade is composed of a modular, hexagonal pattern that expresses the library’s aims to provide a space that invites in and embraces all visitors.

Inspired by the sky

The entry, framed by the wood-clad arches that reference the chinook arch cloud formations common to Alberta.

Gateway to East Village

Gently terraced slopes rise up to the heart of the building, allowing for people arriving from every direction to interact with the library.

Making room for transit

The building is sited within a complex urban condition, where an operational transit line crosses the site from above to below ground on a curved half-moon path, dividing Downtown and East Village.

Local influence

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.

Painting with light

Visitors encounter a lobby with a sky-lit atrium offering clear visibility of the library’s public program.

Bright light

The unique hexagonal geometry of the façade balances the distribution of clear and fritted glass openings to control desired daylight levels for the broad variety of interior experiences.

Form meets function

The design realizes the vision for a technologically advanced public space for innovation, research and collaboration.

From fun to serious

The library program locates lively public activities on the lower floors, gradually transitioning to quieter, focused study areas on the upper levels.

The Team

“Calgarians wanted a place to be inspired by and to innovate in. This vision has been a driving force for the team throughout the design and construction of this library.”

Rob Adamson, Principal
The Making of a Library. The Shaping of a City. Building community connection
A pattern emerges

Early concepts of the building’s dynamic façade. Photo credit: Snohetta

Shapes scatter

Early concepts of the building’s dynamic facade.

Exterior artboard

The connectivity around and across the site is part of the civic centre, engaging the Municipal Building, the library and extending up and through the library to engage with East Village.

View from above

Early design of the library’s atrium, serving as an orientation device for people to quickly grasp the circulation and organizational logic of the library.

Awards

2021 Prairie Wood Design Award, Interior ShowcaseCanadian Wood Council
2019 AIA/ALA Library Building AwardAmerican Institute of Architects