Calgary's New Central Library Opens

John Hill
7. November 2018
The new Central Library seen from the northwest, with the curved facade lifted over the rail line entering the base of the building. (Photo: Michael Grimm)

Calgary, Alberta's new Central Library, designed by Oslo's Snøhetta with Canada's DIALOG, opened to the public on the first of November one block east of City Hall in the city's popular East Village area.

The new Central Library literally bridges a Light Rail Transit Line and in turn connects Calgary's Downtown and East Village neighborhood via a portal through the building at street level. The curved rail line informed the pointed elliptical shape of the building, which resulted in generous plazas on the east and west sides of the building and a curved central atrium inside. Most striking outside is the triple-glazed facade, which is composed of a modular, hexagonal pattern "that expresses the library’s aims to provide a space that invites in all visitors," per a statement from Snøhetta. Inside, expansive wood surfaces add warmth to the spaces structured by exposed concrete. The six-story building moves from louder, public areas at the base to quiter spaces for concentration at the top of the building. Snøhetta describes the progression as a "spectrum of 'Fun' to 'Serious'," though from a distance the whole looks like it could be described as "serious fun."

The atrium is lined with stacks on one side and a variety of library spaces on the other side. (Photo: Michael Grimm)
The northern tip, or prow, of the building on the second level cascades down to the Children's Library spaces along the west facade. (Photo: Michael Grimm)
More than an architectural expression, the solid/void of the hexagonal facades serves to control desired daylight levels and provides for a broad variety of interior experiences. (Photo: Michael Grimm)

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