Canadian Architect

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RAIC Awards of Excellence: Green Building Award

Montreal’s Bibliothèque du Boisé combines high-performance standards with design quality and responsiveness to community needs.

May 15, 2017
by Canadian Architect

A walkway crosses a portion of the library, connecting the main street to a nearby woodland. Photo: Doublespace Photography

A walkway crosses a portion of the library, connecting the main street to a nearby woodland. Photo: Doublespace Photography

Bibliothèque du Boisé
by Cardinal Hardy | Labonté Marcil | Éric Pelletier architecte en consortium (Éric Pelletier architecte and Cardinal Hardy joined Lemay in 2013 and 2014, respectively)

Montreal’s Bibliothèque du Boisé combines high-performance standards with design quality and responsiveness to community needs. Since open-ing in 2013, the facility has quadrupled visitor forecasts and been recognized for many aspects of its architecture and interior design, in particular, for its environmental sustainability.

The LEED Platinum certified building covers 6,000 square metres and brings together multiple functions: a library, administration, exhibit space and museum archives.

The result of an architectural competition by the City of Montreal, the library contains a large collection to serve an ethnically diverse area. It includes meeting rooms, youth areas, and a café, and aims to provide an attractive space for learning as well as cultural and community activities.

The building’s wood-clad eaves echo the surrounding landscape. Photo: Doublespace Photography

The building’s wood-clad eaves echo the surrounding landscape. Photo: Doublespace Photography

Positioned between Thimens Boulevard and Marcel-Laurin Park, the library both strengthens the artery’s civic identity and enhances the protected woodland behind it, by providing a new passage between the two. The architecture unfolds, spreads out and rises up, blurring the bound-aries between the building and its site. The project is further integrated into its surroundings through its use of natural wood and gentle slopes.

Sustainability strategies include an innovative integration of mechanical systems: a passive heating system uses the heat accumulated in a glass prism for redistribution through a geothermal loop. Low-f low ventilation through the floors reduces the number of ducts required. The building relies mostly on natural light, combined with task light-ing, for energy savings: 75 percent of the library’s floor area receives natural light. The project emphasizes the use of certified wood, low-emitting materials, and recycled or regional materials.

The forest is visible throughout the reading areas. Photo: Doublespace Photography

The forest is visible throughout the reading areas. Photo: Doublespace Photography

The existing natural environment is strengthened with xeriscaping, the sensitive design and operation of retention basins, and a green approach to the construction and layout of parking areas. The project pre-serves certain trees and plants over 100 new ones, while also adding 5,000 indigenous shrubs, climbing plants, and ground covers. A storm water recovery system supplies water to an adjacent wetland.

Envisioned as a 21st-century library, the Bibliothèque du Boisé is more than a space for housing documents: it is a cutting-edge cultural, technological and creative hub. It has become an exceptional landmark for the residents of Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough and an inspiration to other communities. By integrating numerous functions, the library embraces the latest innovations in information management and educational technologies. With its balance of open spaces and cozy alcoves, the library fosters social exchanges and generates a sense of belonging and community.


:: Jury ::

The Bibliothèque du Boisé offers a variety of beautifully lit and welcoming spaces throughout, maximizing daylight and views and the use of natural elements, such as wood, to create an environment that contributes to health and well-being. The architects’ approach to high-performance building through whole systems design and strategy has resulted in an impressive achievement. Not only does the Bibliothèque du Boisé have a remarkable dialogue with the urban site and natural habitat, it also does so with a striking form.