Two years ago, The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation selected Snøhetta and Canadian firm DIALOG to design a New Central Library. Since then, Snøhetta—which will lead the architecture and landscape design—and DIALOG—which is serving as the executive architect and landscape architect—have worked with the community to refine the scheme, receiving feedback from over 16,000 Calgarians. The final plan, unveiled publicly in September, reveals an unusual approach: the library straddles an existing light rail, connecting the East Village to downtown. “We wanted to keep that open so people could move freely from the cultural district and downtown Calgary,” said Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers at the September public open house.
The light rail carves space for an entrance inspired by a type of cloud found in Alberta called a Chinook arch. The white curved facade weaves clear and fritted glass to limit daylight in some areas while concentrating it in others. Dykers explained the geometric design is meant to represent interlocked homes, while the curved form of the library is inspired by ancient oil lamps used for reading.
There is a lot of signature Snøhetta curved timber inside and out as well as many daylight-filled public spaces. The interior will provide over 65 percent more space than the current library. Programs are spread throughout the four stories, with each story accessible via a series of stairs and ramps at the perimeter. The entryway opens to a lobby with a sky-lit atrium and flexible seating, while the fourth floor features a reading room for more intensive work.