Thousands of people waited in line on a chilly November morning to get a look at one of the most highly anticipated building openings in Calgary's recent history. The wait was well worth it as Calgary's New Central Library is now officially open, and the architectural gem did not disappoint. Calgarians have been desirous of a new central library for decades, alongside eager design and architecture fans who have been waiting to see the end result of the bold and exciting Snøhetta-designed facility.
The $245 Million facility, which began construction three years ago, has been a high profile project since day one. The former central library was decades old and insufficient for a city the size of Calgary. It was built in 1963 and expanded in 1974 when the city's population was just 400,000, leaving today's city of 1.3 million in dire need of a new central library to support its growing numbers.
The library has been a long time coming starting with a design competition that was put forth in 2013 and subsequently won by Snøhetta. Once the final touches of the design were complete, a public unveiling was held in September 2014 and the winning design was met universally with praise and excitement. In May 2014, construction began on the tunnel to cover the LRT tracks that would go under the future library.
In September 2015, construction began on the library itself. Fast forward 750 days later to today November 1, 2018 and Calgary's stunning new library is open for business. The structure is not just a building full of books, but also a public space and community facility that contains a performance hall, children's library, audio and visual recording studios, 30+ meeting rooms, and a children's play area.
The massive number of people who attended the opening of the building is a testament to the high profile nature of this project. It didn't seem to matter who you were in the city of Calgary, everyone knew about this building and was waiting for it.
Architectural fans across Canada and even across the globe had been keeping an eye on it. Last year for example, Architectural Digest named the new library, one of the world's 12 most anticipated buildings for 2018. It was the only Canadian project to make the list.
Now complete, the New Central Library will endure as a shining testament to the power of good design and thoughtful urban planning. The latest addition to the ever-growing East Village, the library continues a trend of bold design throughout the core, the project to hopefully inspire more of the same in years to come. For those in the Calgary area, we here at SRC encourage you to go check it out!