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Calgary welcomes new Central Public Library

By Thomas Johnson, October 27 2018 —

On Nov. 1, the Calgary Central Library will open its doors after 14 years of planning, funding and construction. The highly anticipated four-storey, 240,000-square-foot facility, which will replace the existing downtown Calgary Library branch, has gained international recognition, including being featured as one Architectural Digest’s 12 most-anticipated buildings of 2018.

“Public libraries everywhere are becoming hubs for 21st-century learning and engines for economic vitality, workforce development and engaged citizens,” says Karen Lamola, the communications associate for the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

The new library will replace the over-50-year-old existing downtown branch, something Lamola says is overdue.

“The new Central Library recognizes the diversity of our city with spaces for artists, authors and historians in residence, Indigenous placemaking, adult learning, newcomers and early learning for children,” Lamola says. “The new Central Library will forever change the landscape of our evolving city and help elevate Calgary onto the global stage.”

While the initial pitch for the New Central Library was in 2004, it took seven years before it was officially approved. The first stages of construction — a $25-million encapsulation of the Red Line CTrain track, which will pass through the library — began in May 2014. Upon its completion in September 2015, construction on the library itself began. Designed by Norwegian-American architectural firm Snøhetta, the Library’s exterior was drafted to replicate the Rockies, with the facade and archways recalling chinook clouds and the terracing of the plaza designed to emulate the foothills surround the mountains. Approximately $2.45 million, or one per cent of the total budget, will be used for public art.

The Calgary Public LIbrary Foundation has not been timid about the new branch’s potential, expressly confident that their new branch will help catalyze Calgary’s continued quest to become a renowned cultural hub.

“The new Central Library will offer state of the art equipment, programs and services to serve Calgary’s rapidly growing population,” Lamola says. “The new Central Library is a bold step forward in transforming the Calgary Public Library into the best public library system in the world and creating and enduring legacy for generations of Calgarians.”

The grand opening will take place on Nov. 1, though the following day promises to be grander. On Nov. 2 at the newly opened Library, the Calgary Public Library Foundation will host the Lit Gala, a fundraising event to host a Spotlight Speaker Series. Craig Dykers, one of Snøhetta’s founding partners and the project’s lead-architect, will be present to explain the features of the new Central Library.

“This project has been in the works for quite a long time and we are excitedly counting down the few weeks until the grand opening,” Lamola says. “The Calgary Public Library Foundation has partnered with some of best talent in our city to feature breathtaking performances, exquisite culinary delights and engaging exhibits on every level of the library. This is a celebration Calgarians will not want to miss.”

Information on the Lit Gala can be found at thelitgala.ca and further information on the New Central Library can be found at yycnewcentrallibrary.com.

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