Winnipeg’s Millennium Library project transformed their 1977 Centennial Library to a modern, open, light-filled facility. With over 4000 visitors a day, the library is now the busiest destination in downtown Winnipeg.
The winning entry in an invited design competition, this major addition and renovation renewed the out-dated building to an iconic cultural institution in the heart of Winnipeg. The revitalization improved urban connections at the entrance, reconfigured the building circulation system, reorganized and expanded collections, modernized media technology, improved services for children and teens, and provided new social spaces and a local history room.
The downtown Winnipeg site presented a initial challenge to the expansion. The library is sited next to an urban park, together occupying a full city block. Below both park and library is two stories of underground parking. Expanding the library into the park would have destroyed valuable public green space and required extensive costly foundation work within the below-grade parking. The alternative was to expand upward, and fortunately the exiting building had the structural capacity to support a additional, light steel-framed floor.
The existing building was surprisingly introspective, with a fortress-like exterior and scant connection to the adjacent park. To create a meaningful relationship to the park, the design removed the existing park-side exterior wall and replaced it with a fully-glazed, multi-story terraced reading room. The result is that once dimly-lit floors enjoy abundant natural light and a direct view of the park and city beyond. At the same time, the compact footprint of the terraced reading room maintains maximum park space, while creating a vibrant, new identity for the library.
Besides providing light and view, the terraced reading room also forms a continuous grand stair from street level to the new fourth floor, creating an informal means of circulating between floors. By interconnecting the multiple floors of the library, the once disconnected floors are understood as part of a singular, shared facility, reinforcing the role of the public library as an invaluable community institution.
Dates: 2002 – 2005
Client: City of Winnipeg Library Services / City of Winnipeg Planning, Property, and Development Department
Architect: Patkau Architects / LM Architectural Group
Area: 115,000 sq ft renovation, 45,000 sq ft addition
Patkau Architects: John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, with Samantha Hayes, Maureen Kwong, Hector Lo, Imke Maron, Tokimi Ota, Christian Schulte, Craig Simms, Yong Sun, Peter Suter
LM Architectural Group: David Kressock, Ken Duchnycz, Andrew Brimble, Greg Tomaszewski, Lloyd Mymko, Brent Mehyden, Robert Winslow, Ron Kinash
Structural : Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd.
Mechancial : SMS Engineering Ltd.
Electrical : MCW/AGE Consulting Professional Engineers
Landscape : Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram
Code : Gage-Babcock and Associates Ltd.
Acoustic : Daniel Lyzun Associates
Media : McSquared System Design Group, Inc.
Signage : Gallop/Varley
Contractor : Manshield Construction
Photos : James Dow