Final design of Ottawa's future central library unveiled

·3 min read
A preview from the final design drawings of the Ottawa Public Library-Library and Archives Canada joint facility unveiled during a board meeting Tuesday. These images reflect spaces that will be part of the Ottawa Central Library. (Submitted by Ottawa Public Library - image credit)
A preview from the final design drawings of the Ottawa Public Library-Library and Archives Canada joint facility unveiled during a board meeting Tuesday. These images reflect spaces that will be part of the Ottawa Central Library. (Submitted by Ottawa Public Library - image credit)

Ottawans now have a glimpse of the final designs for the city's future central library.

The designs for the $192-million library building were presented Tuesday during a meeting of the library board.

The new library will be located at Albert and Booth streets at the edge of LeBreton Flats, and is expected to open in 2024 or 2025.

The joint facility is a partnership between the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and Library and Archives Canada, and is being designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects from Toronto and Ottawa's KWC Architects.

A view of the children's section in the final design drawings of the Ottawa Central Library, unveiled at a library board meeting on Tuesday.
A view of the children's section in the final design drawings of the Ottawa Central Library, unveiled at a library board meeting on Tuesday. (Submitted by Ottawa Public Library)

The space will be split 60-40 between the two partners, a previous report said. The building was designed in consultation with Anishinaabe Algonquin communities. It will feature Indigenous art and rooms that draw inspiration from traditional wigwams, also known as houses.

Architect Gary McCluskie detailed how the exterior of the building will be made up of both wood and Algonquin limestone.

Design with pandemic in mind

The design of the library was also updated with the pandemic in mind. That includes automatic, touchless doors, possible one way stair routes, and upgraded air filters.

"It seemed opportune and necessary when you're undertaking a design of a facility that's meant to be and will be a major public destination and you're in the midst of a significant worldwide pandemic," said Simon Dupuis with the joint partnership.

"It makes us better prepared to deal with this pandemic and future pandemics and at the end of the day, just makes it better or [a] more usable space and gives us the flexibility to adapt to any other sort of changes."

The board endorsed and unanimously passed the final design of the OPL portion of the joint project Tuesday.

A view of what the west side of the building will look like.
A view of what the west side of the building will look like.(Ottawa Public Library Board Meeting)

An OPL news release said the design plans will next be presented to the National Capital Commission's public board of directors on April 22.

It's expected they'll be widely shared with the public in the coming weeks.

Construction on the project is expected to begin this fall.

Honorary chair announced

At the meeting, the library board's ad hoc fundraising committee also introduced former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, who will act as a spokesperson and honorary chair of the Ottawa Central Library fundraising campaign.

"I think it's going to, as I say, be one of the most important buildings in the last two decades for Ottawa and it's going to clinch a renewal of that part of the city," McLachlin said in an interview with CBC following the meeting.

A view of what the Ottawa Central Library will look like from Albert Street.
A view of what the Ottawa Central Library will look like from Albert Street.(Ottawa Public Library Board Meeting)

The OPL hopes to raise $10 to 15 million over the coming years to help pay for state-of-the-art programs at its new home.

"Ms. McLachlin embodies the Canadian spirit of democracy, inclusivity, knowledge and creativity, which is at the foundation of this new library," wrote OPL chair Matthew Luloff in a news release. "We are fortunate to have someone of her stature and influence joining us as we take on this ambitious campaign."