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This library was inspired by our realization that a ravine is hidden within dense foliage at the edge of the suburban site. Orphaned from the North Saskatchewan River by intense urbanization in the 1960s, the ravine is a remnant of a riparian prairie ecosystem that once characterized the Edmonton area. The site, flanked by a residential street to the west and the orphaned ravine to the east, is ideal for a library, both accessible and connected to nature.

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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Area: 1,100 sq m
Client: Edmonton Public Library
Date: 2014 – 2018

Awards:

2020 – AIA/ALA Library Building Award

2020 – Prairie Wood Design Award – Institiution

2019 – Wood Design Merit Award

This library was inspired by our realization that a ravine is hidden within dense foliage at the edge of the suburban site. Orphaned from the North Saskatchewan River by intense urbanization in the 1960s, the ravine is a remnant of a riparian prairie ecosystem that once characterized the Edmonton area. The site, flanked by a residential street to the west and the orphaned ravine to the east, is ideal for a library, both accessible and connected to nature.

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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Area: 1,100 sq m
Client: Edmonton Public Library
Date: 2014 – 2018

Awards:

2020 – AIA/ALA Library Building Award

2020 – Prairie Wood Design Award – Institiution

2019 – Wood Design Merit Award

The 1,100 square metre program is organized into three parallel zones oriented along the north-south axis of the site. A continuous folded wood roof runs the 77-metre length of the library, its three peaks corresponding to the three zones below. The upper and lower planes of the roof are optimized for daylight, acoustics, structure, and technical services, striking an irregular profile at each end of the building. Each of the three zones responds to scale, function, natural light, and view. The western zone reflects the scale of the neighbourhood with a quiet edge of support spaces along the street. The eastern zone is intimately scaled, with varied seating along a serene 55-metre long window overlooking the ravine. The lofty middle zone contains flexible areas for stacks, community, and staff. To complement the shady deciduous backdrop, the library is clad in black aluminum and natural wood, while a double-row of elms and entry plaza tie the building to the adjacent street. Wood screened clerestories on the west face of the library fill the interior with daylight. As the sun passes over the building, sunlight filters through the screens, projecting gentle patterns of light and shadow on the interior surfaces. Views of the verdant landscape combined with continually changing interior light create a natural oasis in the heart of a suburban prairie neighbourhood.

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