Bibliothque Raymond-Lvesque

ARCHITECTS Atelier Tag, Jodoin Lamarre Pratte, Architects in Consortium
LOCATION Longueuil, Quebec

This project, a new main library for the borough of Saint-Hubert in Longueuil, represents the winning entry in a Quebec-wide architectural competition held in the fall of 2008. The building will be situated at the northwest entrance to the Parc de la Cité, the city’s principal civic park covering 50 hectares of land. Straddling city and park, the library acts simultaneously as a gateway pavilion, an institutional building, a civic structure and a cultural centre. It is conceived to provide designated areas for young families, children, daycare and school groups as well as for adolescents, adults and retirees. It will provide a platform not only for learning but also for vital intergenerational exchanges within the community. Its program will offer traditional library services, access and dissemination of new technologies as well as a wide range of public activities including a café and multipurpose exhibition room.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Saint-Hubert’s built environment and cultural heritage has been intimately linked to Quebec’s aeronautics industry. Due to its geographic location, Saint-Hubert benefits from unique meteorological conditions resulting in a remarkable potential for wind energy. The architecture of the new library is sculpted in response to this force of nature, poetically materializing and celebrating the presence of the wind while technically seeking to take advantage of this resource for its bioclimatic strategy. Delicately sited between protected wetlands and a red maple forest, the new library explores an essential link with Saint-Hubert’s most important natural environment.

Beyond the formal allegory of the flying carpet, the architectural concept is foremost an elementary bioclimatic response to the site’s conditions. Its geometry speaks of the renewable natural resources of the earth–the wind, the sun and the rain. From west to east, its roofscape bends under the prevailing winds. The giant cut at its centre collects the rainwater in a retention basin while the wood blades of its filigree envelope filter the sunlight. The façade composition of wood louvres, inclined according to the path of the sun, highlights the constructional nature of the filigree assembly and its spatial and aerial qualities.

The programmatic elements are organized in a single continuous move that unfolds from the public place to the forest, delineating a central open court. This exterior court forms the geographic, social and perceptual heart of the library. Acting as contemplative space and oasis, the court visually connects while keeping adjacent program elements physically separated. While allowing for the deep penetration of natural light, it facilitates orientation, organizes the different collections, and ensures the tranquility of the main reading room. In winter, its carpet of snow will accentuate the luminosity and peacefulness of the library spaces.

Working with a team of engineers from the very outset of the competition, reduction in environmental footprint was taken into account throughout the development of the project by considering the synergy between the building’s key phases of design, construction, commissioning and maintenance. As such, the project’s bioclimatic concept relies on using as much as possible the surrounding climatic resources: sun, water, wind and earth–in the form of geothermal energy. Moreover, the building’s HVAC is supplemented by a controlled natural ventilation system and the protected microclimate of the central exterior court.

GH: The simple elegance of this proposal is a joy to behold. The library will be a glass pavilion in the woods. I could imagine spending hours reading there. I generally hate folded buildings, but this one has subtle folds sculpted by the sun’s path. These architects have serious talent.

JPL: This very poetic project constitutes a great example of sensitive and mature planning. The architects worked with the metaphor of a flying carpet, creating a central organizing element through the introduction of an open court flooded with natural light. This area solves several programmatic issues while allowing the users to easily relate to the various sections of the library. The compact building envelope remains remarkably open to its park-like setting which will no doubt provide users with a variety of rich experiences. The detailing seems to be carefully thought through and the use of wooden slats on the façade nicely echo the surrounding woods.

PR: This is a fabulous library that is true to its concept, and thoughtfully and elegantly composed. With respect to the interior in establishing a connection to the forest, the building’s massing is purposeful, with generous spatial conditions. However, the design certainly contains a lot of glass in its building envelope for such a cold climate, something which should necessitate the use of high-performance glazing.

Client City of Longueuil
Architect Team Manon Asselin, Katsuhiro Yamazaki, Thomas Balaban, Matt Balean, Laurie Damme Gonneville, Nicholas Ranger, Carlo Carbone, Gérard Lanthier, Guylaine Beaudoin, Maxime Gagnon, Charles-André Gagnon, Serge Breton
Structural SNC-Lavalin
Mechanical/Electrical Martin Roy et Associés
Landscape/Interiors Atelier Tag, Jodoin Lamarre Pratte, Architects in Consortium
Contractor La Corporation de Construction Tridôme
Area 3,975 m2
Budget $12.2 M
Completion September 2010