You can’t judge a book by its cover. But a library … well, that’s another story altogether.
Ever since Calgary Public Library made the decision to locate its New Central Library in East Village, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the organization tasked with overseeing every aspect of the library’s design and construction – has taken every necessary measure to ensure it’s a landmark building every Calgarian can be proud of.
It all began with a rigorous and exhaustive search for a worthy architectural firm – a nine-month process that culminated in the selection of Snøhetta, an international architecture firm with offices in Oslo and New York, and DIALOG, a Canadian firm with locations in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.
“The winning prime design team lived up to all our expectations and designed a landmark structure and inspiring space that’s as dazzling as it is dynamic,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president and CEO. “And today – a little more than three years after issuing the request for qualifications that led us to Snøhetta and DIALOG – we’re thrilled beyond words to see their incredible design coming alive as we begin to install the New Central Library’s exterior cladding.”
While the steel and concrete assembly that’s been rising into Calgary’s skyline since vertical construction began in September 2015 will be the backbone of the New Central Library, the 465 hexagonal panels that form the building’s outer shell will give the structure its iconic appeal.
“The curtain wall is such a vital part of the entire building,” explains Kate Thompson, CMLC’s vice president, projects. “It lends so much to the dynamic style and personality of the library.”
Each of the library’s 485 panels is one of five different shapes, yet each is slightly different from the other. Ranging in size from 1.2 x 3.7 metres to 2.7 x 9.1 metres and weighing from around 900 to 2,250 kilograms, they’ve been designed to fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle over the building’s steel and concrete framework, encasing the scholastic wonders within. Calgarians can get a great view of the installation program starting at the corner of 9 Avenue and 3rd Street SE.
“It’s great to see the tremendous construction progress being made this year on the project,” notes Bill Ptacek, CEO, Calgary Public Library. “It’s getting harder and harder to manage our enthusiasm; the building will not be complete until Q3, 2018 but our entire staff and volunteer teams are already imagining what it will be like to work in the building.”
Designed to LEED Gold certification, the New Central Library design incorporates a host of energy-efficient technologies. The hexagonal outer panels are an important part of this equation.
“The glass panels will provide texture to the building because they have a clear, glazed or fritted finish, but their function is by no means purely esthetic,” says Thompson. “We’ll strategically place the panels to help prevent heat build-up in the building. To achieve our LEED Gold status, we’re keeping the glazed openings to a maximum of 40 per cent of the building’s exterior, as this limits excessive heat loads and reduces the costs of cooling the interior.”
The unique glass panels were fabricated by Ferguson Corporation, a Calgary-based manufacturer specializing in advanced curtain wall and structural glass building enclosures. It took eight months to fabricate the panels, and Ferguson will require another six months to install them.
“Ferguson sent two prototype panels to a testing lab in Miami to see how they withstood water, heat and other extreme conditions,” says Thompson, who adds that some minor modifications were made as a result. “Installation will start at the south end of the building, continue around the corner of the building and then finish up at the north end. The building should be entirely closed in by Q2, 2017.”
Calgary’s New Central Library is fully funded by the City of Calgary and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.