Snhetta and DIALOG’s design for Calgary’s new Central Library revealed

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation recently unveiled DIALOG and Snøhetta’s competition-winning design for Calgary’s New Central Library. Following a two-year process of community engagement, the new design will realize the city’s vision for a technologically advanced public space for innovation, research and collaboration at the intersection of Downtown Calgary and East Village.

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, ringing in at 236,000 square feet, features an open entry at the heart of the site, allowing 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 neighbouring communities and provides a new outdoor civic space within the city.

Upon entering the library, visitors encounter a lobby awash with natural light. Eyes are drawn up through the skylit 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 along 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.

The encapsulation of the existing Light Trail Train is currently underway, and the new Calgary Public Library is expected to be completed in 2018.

Additional project information is available on the CMLC’s website at