New Cen­tral Li­brary set to open with com­ple­tion of $245M pro­ject

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - RYAN RUMBOLT RRum­bolt@post­media.com twit­ter.com/RCRum­bolt

Cal­gary’s New Cen­tral Li­brary in the East Vil­lage is al­most ready to open its doors.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi, mem­bers of coun­cil and the Cal­gary Mu­nic­i­pal Land Corp. cel­e­brated the end of con­struc­tion on the $245-mil­lion pro­ject on Fri­day, of­fi­cially hand­ing the build­ing over to Cal­gary Pub­lic Li­brary.

“It’s a great day for Cal­gary, it’s a proud day for ev­ery one of us, and I couldn’t be hap­pier to be mark­ing the end of con­struc­tion on this site at the New Cen­tral Li­brary,” Nen­shi said to a crowd of around 100 peo­ple gath­ered un­der­neath the li­brary’s sweep­ing arch­way en­trance.

The li­brary isn’t sched­uled to open un­til Nov. 1, but Post­media was given a sneak peek of the 240,000-square-foot pro­ject in Fe­bru­ary.

Fea­tur­ing more than 30 com­mu­nity meet­ing spa­ces, out­door plazas and green­ery and a large chil­dren’s play area, Nen­shi said the new li­brary will be­come a cen­tre of learn­ing self-im­prove­ment for Cal­gar­i­ans.

“It’ll in­stantly be­come the crit­i­cal, vi­brant, valu­able, ac­ces­si­ble, cul­tural hub for our city, and how could we not be ex­cited about that?” the mayor said.

The build­ing ’s ar­chi­tects — in­ter­na­tional firm Snøhetta and Cal­gary ’s DIA­LOG — earned a spot on Ar­chi­tec­tural Di­gest’s 12 most an­tic­i­pated build­ings of the year with the East Vil­lage pro­ject.

Rob Adam­son, one of the new li­brary’s ar­chi­tects with DIA­LOG, said the de­sign team worked to cre­ate a build­ing that would serve Cal­gar­i­ans “for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant piece of civic ar­chi­tec­ture that, hope­fully, Cal­gar­i­ans iden­tify with … it’ll one day be­come a sym­bol of our great city,” Adam­son said.

The new li­brary at 3rd Street and 7th Av­enue S.E. will re­place the out­dated con­crete main branch along Macleod Trail and was built on top of the CTrain’s Red Line — a first for Cal­gary down­town de­vel­op­ment and en­gi­neer­ing.

On top of all the li­brary’s more stan­dard fea­tures, the new fa­cil­ity will have a ded­i­cated space for teens with mu­sic and gam­ing sta­tions, and a more for­mal Great Read­ing Room on the top floor.

Plan­ning for the New Cen­tral Li­brary be­gan in 2004 when coun­cil com­mit­ted $40 mil­lion to the pro­ject.

Coun­cil com­mit­ted an ad­di­tional $135 mil­lion to the li­brary from Cal­gary’s Com­mu­nity In­vest­ment Fund in 2011, fol­lowed by a CMLC con­tri­bu­tion of $70 mil­lion for a to­tal pro­ject cost of $245 mil­lion, the city said in a re­lease.

The li­brary’s cafe space, which will have direct ac­cess from the street, will be op­er­ated by two peo­ple well-known in the local food scene: Gareth Lukes, owner of Luke’s Drug Mart in Bridge­land, and Eric Hendry, chef be­hind Bar Von Der Fels.

JIM WELLS

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi and other dig­ni­taries at­tended a cer­e­mony at the New Cen­tral Li­brary in the city’s down­town on Fri­day.

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