Awards of Excellence 2004 – Charlesbourg Library

Quebec City, Quebec

Croft Pelletier architectes

Located in the centre of a Renaissance-inspired plan designed by Jesuits in 1637, the Trait-Carr represents one of Quebec City’s four historic districts and one of the first examples in North America of a planned community. The library expansion is an integral part of a general neighbourhood revitalization plan for the Trait-Carr, and involves the construction of a 35,000-square-foot addition to the public library adjacent to the historic Saint-Charles-Borrome Church. The new library strives to become a new public destination for cultural exchange and intellectual stimulation, and attempts to address current and future needs in an animated urban environment while retaining the history and memories associated with the site.

The site plan re-establishes the visual links between the library and the roads surrounding the property, reinforcing the public character of the public spaces and of the library itself. The L-shaped organization of the site also reinforces the physical, spiritual and symbolic centrality of the church and its monumental character, leaving the library, park and public square to facilitate the creation of this precinct as a truly democratic space.

The landscape elements reflect the established radial land pattern, while the building itself follows the orthogonal layout typical of buildings in the central Institutional Square. The landscape spreads, rises and folds, recalling the agricultural past of Charlesbourg Village and the common pasture lands in the centre of the square. The landscape envelops the library and covers it with a field of wild grasses; this green roof, one of the largest in Canada, is designed to be an accessible public park for reading, relaxing and picnicking by library users and the general public. To re-establish the public nature of the Institutional Square, the current asphalt parking lot will be replaced by a new sloping multi-functional public square which will act as a forecourt for the church, contributing toward an already active cultural life in the Trait-Carr.

Monteyne: This is a very accomplished work on a physically rich site that manages to produce multiple layers of public amenity spaces, both inside and out. Although sensitive to the heritage context, the project avoids pastiche by remaining true to the realities of contemporary construction techniques.

Shnier: Current design trends–screens, accessible roof landscapes, patterned glass–are dexterously utilized in a project with powerful civic ambitions. Though difficult, it would be interesting to see if there was a (more substantial) way to integrate the presence of the 17th-century radial plan, cited by the authors as significant in their preamble to this project.

Yarinsky: Part building and part landscape, the way the building weaves into its site enables it to be experienced on several levels.

Client: Ville de Qubec

Architect team: Marie-Chantal Croft, Eric Pelletier, Rmi Jr Hovington, Guylaine Lehoux, Jocelyn Martel, Annie Martineau, Melissa Allard, Delphine Beaudoin, Marie-Chantal Pineau, Marie Ignaczak

Structural: BPR groupe conseil

Mechanical: BPR groupe conseil

Electrical: BPR groupe conseil

Landscape: Croft Pelletier architectes

Interiors: Croft Pelletier architectes

Area: 3,350 m2

Budget: $7.8 million

Completion: summer 2006