Calgary's new Central Library opens to the public
Nov 05, 2018
On November 1, 2018, the Snøhetta- and DIALOG-designed new Central Library opened its doors to the public. With aims to welcome over twice as many annual visitors to its 240,000 SF of expanded facilities, the library will fill a vital role for the rapidly expanding city. 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.
Calgary Public Library is one of the largest library systems in North America, where more than half of its residents are active cardholders, and accordingly, the new main branch was created for and inspired by its diverse inhabitants. 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.
Situated on the seam between Downtown Calgary and the East Village, the library will reconnect these two neighborhoods. The building is sited within a complex urban condition, where a fully operational Light Rail Transit Line crosses the site from above to below ground on a curved half-moon path, dividing Downtown and East Village. In response, the design terraces over the transit line, lifting the main entry to the heart of the site. Doubling as a portal and a bridge, the entry plaza heals the previously-split seam between the two neighborhoods and re-establishes visual and pedestrian connections across the site.
In 2013, CPL and CMLC hosted an international design competition to select the architecture and landscape architecture team to realize the Central Library. The Snøhetta- and DIALOG-designed library reached substantial completion in July 2018, was handed over to Calgary Public Library in September, and opened on time and on budget to the public on November 1, 2018. The new Central Library will join Studio Bell, the Arts Commons, and the Glenbow Museum as part of a burgeoning cultural campus in downtown Calgary and the East Village.