LocationEdmonton, AB, Canada
EngineeringRead Jones Christoffersen, Smith + Andersen, Hemisphere Engineering, ISL Engineering Ltd
SustainabilityTargeting a LEED Silver certification
Text description provided by the architects. The Highlands Branch Library in Edmonton has been serving customers in northeast Edmonton, Highlands, Montrose and Bellevue communities since 1962, when it began operations. The new building, which replaces the existing branch library, responds in its design to the buildings in the neighbourhood.
“In the design of the building we are inspired by the low-rise buildings in the neighbourhood. The new library is designed as a composition of pitched roofs, which is given a contemporary and modern expression with the implementation of large windows and the metallic facade material”, explained Partner Chris Hardie from schmidt hammer lassen architects. “The library sits like an open pavilion in a garden and expresses that it is open to all; a free public space, a place to read, a place to learn, a place to meet, a place to be.”
As a distinctive landmark in the community, the new library stimulates the further development along 118th Avenue as well as it improves the quality of life for citizens in the area. From whichever direction the building is approached, whether by foot, bicycle, bus or car, visitors will be able to look into the library space.
“The library pavilion faces the surroundings in all directions and acts like a beacon in the community”, said founding partner Morten Schmidt from schmidt hammer lassen architects. “The building’s transparency and openness contributes to its social hub function, which is essential for a modern library.”
The new library is organised as one large space spread into three wings – one for the children’s collection, one for the teens’ collection and one for the main adult collection. Librarians are located in the centre to be easily available and visible to library users. Containing 200 square metres more than the old branch library, the library now offers: a larger children's area, expanded reading areas for adults, dedicated teen space, quiet study and reading areas, 18 public computer stations, new technologies and devices to promote making and creation, and two 24-hour return chutes.
schmidt hammer lassen architects has an extensive track-record of designing libraries, the most renowned of which are the extension of The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark and University of Aberdeen New Library in Scotland. Highlands Branch Library is the first of three libraries that will be completed by schmidt hammer lassen architects in the coming months. This fall, the second library in Canada by the practice, Halifax New Central Library, will open; and in the spring of 2015, DOKK1, the largest public library in Scandinavia, situated in Aarhus, Denmark, is to open.