Plans have been revealed for the new Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada joint facility designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects, which will rise on a prominent site in Ottawa.
“With exhibition and collections space, reading rooms, creative centre, children’s area, a genealogy centre, and café configured around a large town hall, the new facility will be a welcoming home for the stories of Ottawa residents and all Canadians,” said Gary McCluskie, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The planning included a public co-design process that asked residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from coast to coast to provide input and comment at every stage of design.
At four public workshops and online feedback, major themes included creating an accessible, iconic destination, a place to spend time, not be merely transactional, with views, connection to nature, and have a multitude of offerings, and a mix of quiet and vibrant spaces.
The building’s design draws from Ottawa’s history and natural beauty with a dynamic form reminiscent of the nearby Ottawa River. The stone and wood exterior reflect the adjacent escarpment and surrounding greenspace on the western edge of downtown. The windows, top floors, and rooftop offer views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Québec.
The location at the crossroads of three cultures—French, English, and Indigenous—“underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story,” said Donald Schmitt, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The United Kingdom-based Jason Bruges Studio was named ‘Artist on the Design Team’ and will further express the sense of engagement and connection through public art installations.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification is targeted. Inspire555 is the name of the ongoing public consultation process, a nod to the building’s future address of 555 Albert Street.
The joint facility has a $193-million budget and will be spread across 20,067 m2 (216,000 sf) over five floors. It is scheduled to open in 2024.