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Snøhetta reveals contest-winning Calgary library

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Snøhetta has revealed its competition winning designs for a new 21,925m2 public library in Calgary, Canada

The design for the new library is said to be ‘inspired by the nearby foothills’ and is two-thirds bigger than the city’s existing 1960s library.

The scheme is entered through an arched, wood-clad entrance that also creates a new public plaza connecting the building with the surrounding areas.

It features a large naturally-lit atrium with the circulation highlighted with timber cladding.

The practice saw off competition from 38 other teams to land the project back in November 2013.

Construction on the project is set to start later this year and the building is expected to complete in 2018.

Snohetta Calgary

The architect’s view 

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 neighboring communities and provides a new outdoor civic space within the city.

Upon entering the library, visitors encounter a lobby awash with natural light. Your eyes are 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 spiraling 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.

Snohetta Calgary

Project data

Location Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Type of project library
Client Calgary Municipal Land Corporation
Architect Snohetta
Executive architect Dialog
Project manager MHPM
Construction management Stuart Olson Dominium
Utility relocation managers Associated Engineering
Start on site date 2014
Completion date 2018
Gross internal floor area 21,925m2
Project cost $245 million

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