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Patkaus win AIA/ALA award for Edmonton library

Patkau Architects Inc.’s Capilano Library in Edmonton is among four libraries that have received a 2020 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for excellence in architectural design by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA).

ENTRY PLAZA LOOKING SOUTH courtesy of aia.org

The 2020 AIA/ALA Library Building Award recipients demonstrated design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, ecology, environmental sustainability, and of history.

The six-person jury describes the Capilano Library as an ecological argument that serves a suburban prairie neighborhood of Edmonton.

The team organized the 12,000-square-foot program into three parallel zones oriented along the site’s north-south axis. The building is capped with a continuous folded wood roof that runs the entirety of the library’s 250 feet. The roof’s upper and lower planes are optimized for daylight, acoustics, and structure, while the building is wrapped in black aluminum and natural wood to complement the site’s deciduous backdrop.

INTERIOR LOOKING NORTH courtesy of aia.org
CAPILANO LIBRARY, EDMONTON, AB CANADA, PATKAU ARCHITECTS INC., 2020 AIA/ALA LIBRARY BUILDING AWARDS

Inside, each zone responds directly to scale, natural light, and discrete views. The western zone is reflective of the surrounding neighborhood and includes an edge of quiet support spaces along the residential street, while the eastern zone features varied seating and a 180-foot window with views of the ravine. The middle is characterized by a top-lit loftiness and houses the library’s stacks and spaces for its staff and community use. At the library’s western end, wood-screened clerestories allow daylight to flood the space.

As part of the project’s sighting strategy, the design team was a vocal advocate for the restoration of the landscape as a way to connect the ravine to its larger ecosystem. The city embraced that ideal, reintroducing drought-tolerant native species to areas that were previously mown grass.

“By acknowledging the ravine, the library provides visitors and staff with a place of reverence for knowledge and nature while creating a tranquil edge to its community,” comments the jury.

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