Buildings

Ryerson University Student Learning Centre

“We wanted to create a campus hub: a technologically rich, flexible and congenial library environment to inspire interaction, introspection, discovery, and innovation. The Student Learning Centre (SLC) has become a downtown magnet for students and visitors alike. It recognizes the many ways students study and collaborate, and the multiple ways students learn outside of class. Our aim was to foster greater student engagement and success.The SLC has engendered great student pride and community spirit.” [from the Ryerson University Library award submission document]

Ontario Library Association
2016 New Library Building Award Winner

Ryerson University Student Learning Centre

“Inspired by the historical gathering spaces of the Stoas and Agoras in ancient Greece where learning was inherently social, the lively SLC gives students eight uniquely-designed floors of generous space to meet, study, and exchange ideas. The design develops natural conditions for groups of people to interact while also offering areas for controlled and introspective study. Most importantly, it encourages students to make the space their own. Each floor of the building is different in plan and section, to offer students a wide variety of spaces to suit their needs, both volumetrically and atmospherically.” [from the Design Statement]

librarian“This strikingly building on Yonge St. has fundamentally transformed the relationship of the University to the city and provided a bold gateway to the campus.   It has also succeeded in dramatically changing the Ryerson student experience by providing a rich learning environment that serves as a home away from home for the largely commuting student body.  And the building has also helped expand notions of how libraries can serve as agoras in an academic community.  The jury was struck by the ways that the building has supplemented the existing Library Tower with a structure that embodies many of the characteristics of 21st century libraries: differentiated functions, social learning spaces, technological innovation, and incorporation of a variety of learning supports.” [from a Library Jury Member]

See the complete award submission document for the Ryerson University Student Learning Centre for a wealth of additional material: photos, statements from the Library and the architect, floor plans, and costing information.

The 2016 OLA New Library Building Award WinnersCentennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & LibraryToronto Public Library Fort York Branch LibraryHaliburton County Public Library Wilberforce BranchRyerson University Student Learning CentreToronto Public Library Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

Haliburton County Public Library Wilberforce Branch

“Although it appears to be stand-alone, the library is actually fulfilling a number of community functions. The Highlands East Council meets at the library -they meet on Mondays a day the library has no operating hours. Prior to the library being built they were meeting in a community centre on folding tables. The building was designed so that there could be access to washrooms and water
for the community garden that shares the same property.

Because the library space and hours were expanded, pre-school programming in partnership with the Ontario Early Years Centre can take place thus improving early literacy and school readiness in the area. Also due to expanded space, active living can be promoted with the addition of a yoga class at the library. Living rurally can be very isolating for a number of different sectors of the population. The new library was built with a kitchen facility and because of that staff are able to offer coffee and snacks with some programming. Combining a Lego Club with adult Coffee and Colouring means that adults can interact in a group activity while their kids do the same.

In a small community where resources are limited the library can represent a central gathering space that meets a large cross-section of the community’s needs.” [from the Haliburton County Public Library award submission document]

Ontario Library Association
2016 New Library Building Award Winner

Haliburton County Public Library

“Above and beyond the goals typical of a library project serving a small community, this project also had high expectations for environmental responsibility while keeping construction costs in line with what a small community can afford to build.

Early on the library committee aligned itself with Fleming College’s Sustainable Building Design & Construction program, of which I was Program Coordinator and lead designer. The program is unique within the educational system as it provides college level students with hands on training and experience on a real project with real partner dollars. The program specializes in cutting edge, environmentally sustainable building methods and has built many similar projects in the surrounding small communities.” [from the Architect’s Statement: Patrick Marcotte]

librarian“This library demonstrates a strong focus on sustainable building efforts. Energy efficient materials and methods are paired with a natural look and feel that makes it fit in the landscape. The interior has a cozy, cottage-like feel. The windows let in lots of light as well as attractive views of the natural surroundings. The wattle-and-daube exposure and truth windows showing straw bale construction stages add a nice historical touch. Increased opportunities for programming in particular, and community engagement overall, speak well for the community’s future.” [from a Library Jury Member]

Architect“This building is a testament to the design ingenuity of a small community. Working with limited resources and program, the community has developed a building that shows leadership on climate change in a design that reflects the community. The dual duty of meeting spaces, combined with natural light and siting create a community icon that the people of Haliburton can be proud of, for generations. The community realized the value of the library space as a centre of learning and designed a space that educates, provides opportunities to gather and stimulate the local economy.”  [from an Architect Jury Member]

See the complete award submission document for the Haliburton County Public Library Wilberforce Branch for a wealth of additional material: photos, statements from the Library and the architect, floor plans, and costing information.

The 2016 OLA New Library Building Award WinnersCentennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & LibraryToronto Public Library Fort York Branch LibraryHaliburton County Public Library Wilberforce BranchRyerson University Student Learning CentreToronto Public Library Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

TPL Scarborough Civic Centre Branch

“TPL’s goal was to increase use, serve the needs of a growing neighbourhood and evolve with changing technology. A raised panel floor is used for optimal adaptability in upgrading services as required. The library’s open and flexible floor space is coupled with non-fixed data /electrical connections, furniture and stacks on wheels which can be easily rearranged. A multi-purpose room and media hub were included as flexible spaces to accommodate the community’s needs.” [from the Toronto Public Library award submission document]

Ontario Library Association
2016 New Library Building Award Winner

TPL Scarborough Composite

“All on one floor, the branch creates a street- and community-oriented library with everyone under one roof. Based on a theme of connection the design supports the library’s commitment to community space that is collaborative, welcoming, accessible and inclusive.” [from the Architect’s Statement: Brock James]

librarian“Toronto Public Library’s Scarborough Civic Centre branch  is a well-designed, sophisticated and vibrant community living room, offering light, transparency and cutting-edge services. A welcome counterpart to the adjacent Civic Centre, the library embraces the use of natural elements both inside and outside the building. It boasts a digital innovation hub, a whimsical KidsStop early literacy centre, and ample social and working space, encouraging community connection and conversation.” [ from a Library Jury Member]

Architect“The scale of the building along the street edge, and within, creates a comfortable, pedestrian scaled building that enhances the street. The transparency of the building, with the structure penetrating the envelope and vanishing into the rafters, dematerializes the building, blurring interior and exterior. The building uses few materials, keeping the architectural language to a simple statement of geometry, light and colour.” [from an Architect Jury Member]

ArchitectThe jury was delighted by the architectural quality of this building in which simply articulated interiors flow freely beneath a series of massive wooden frames. The heavy timber structure clearly dominates the architecture and is at once evocative and playful. The space seems highly flexible and adaptable yet suffers no loss of architectural specificity. The sloping roof line and eccentric angles of  the ‘walking columns’ create a great variety of scales and spatial conditions within a simple suite of elements. The jury was also impressed with the designer’s ability to integrate a new architectural language with heightened transparency and warmth into the existing complex of rather closed and geometrically awkward buildings.” [from an Architect Jury Member]

See the complete award submission document for the TPL Scarborough Civic Centre Branch for a wealth of additional material: photos, statements from the Library and the architect, floor plans, and costing information.

The 2016 OLA New Library Building Award WinnersCentennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & LibraryToronto Public Library Fort York Branch LibraryHaliburton County Public Library Wilberforce BranchRyerson University Student Learning CentreToronto Public Library Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

Toronto Public Library Fort York Branch Library

“The branch is bright, with modern spaces and spectacular views. It offers many opportunities to linger and work: study pods, laptop bar, huge old growth wood table and comfortable lounge seating. An attractive and welcoming community space that offers services for everyone, with zoned areas for adults, teens and children; the branch provides access to information, collections, technology or a new focus on innovation.

This library was built with flexibility in mind. The program room on the main floor fully opens out to the large atrium. All of the shelving on the main floor of the branch is moveable to allow the space to be opened up for larger events, raised access flooring on the second floor means
more flexibility for the introduction of new services in the future. A terrace adjacent the library will overlook the Mouth of the Creek Park, providing connections between the library, Fort York and the community beyond.” [from the Toronto Public Library award submission document]

Ontario Library Association
2016 New Library Building Award Winner

Toronto Public Library - Fort York

“It is the gateway visually and physically to Fort York and a way of connecting the fort to the city. The location is historically loaded and should be very public. Garrison Creek came through here once. From the start, we wanted to design the library – and the two other buildings we designed next to it, the Library District Condos – so that they would have some kind of resonance with the ramparts of Fort York with all their angularity. The colours we used are a metaphor for the landscape of 200 years ago. Even now there are traces of the past everywhere you turn.” [from the Architect’s Statement: Shirley Blumberg]

librarian“When Fort York, Toronto Public Library’s 99th branch, opened its doors in May 2014, the Globe and Mail reported, “Fort York is an airy jewel box in the old railway lands  … it is the public hub of a vibrant new neighbourhood that is rising south of Front.”  Indeed, Fort York is a tremendous community asset.  The 16,000 square foot glass structure holds 35,000 books, offers a digital innovation hub, meeting and lounge space – and offers commanding cityscape views.   It is exemplary in demonstrating commitment to community development, embraces technology, and is commendable in its sustainable design.   Fort York is bold, audacious, and clearly a winner!” [from a Library Jury Member]

Architect“The building captures the imagination; sited on a hill, at a threshold between train lines and new residential development, the building negotiates this transition admirably. The scale, geometry and detailing is subtle and results in a complex, serene, space that beckons public engagement. The integration of public art seamlessly creates a cohesive, delicate building that is destined to stand the test of time.”  [from an Architect Jury Member]

See the complete award submission document for the Toronto Public Library Fort York Branch for a wealth of additional material: photos, statements from the Library and the architect, floor plans, and costing information.

The 2016 OLA New Library Building Award WinnersCentennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & LibraryToronto Public Library Fort York Branch LibraryHaliburton County Public Library Wilberforce BranchRyerson University Student Learning CentreToronto Public Library Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

Centennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & Library

“The new library is not a traditional library. It is coupled with student services, bookstore, student commons, and a cultural centre. The result provides students with on-site support services, promoting a culture of engagement, learning, and social interaction, essential to the progress of the campus

From the open areas filled with natural light to the more structured collaborative learning environment in the group study rooms, students can choose from a variety of spaces that promote a culture of engagement, activity, and social interaction. For students seeking a more contemplative study environment, there is a long study bar along the north-facing glass walls and a silent study room with carrels.” [from the Centennial College Library award submission document]

Ontario Library Association
2016 New Library Building Award Winner

Centennial College - Ashtonbee Campus“The design of the new library acts as a ‘bridge’ in both figurative and literal ways. It acts as a bridge: to community, to learning, and to current & future planning. The new library is fully integrated with the student services programming; the learning spaces it provides are not limited by the library’s enclosure. The building presents a transparent and open identity to the outside world bringing students, staff, and community together. It is the new face and arrival gateway of campus.” [from the Architect’s Statement]

librarian“This new building is very effective at helping to reshape and rebrand  Ashtonbee by creating a gateway to the campus.  The building gives great prominence and visibility to the library, and builds synergies by incorporating other student services such as the bookstore, student commons and cultural centre.  Inside, the space feels bright, airy, fresh and modern, and effectively incorporates a variety of types of study spaces, including group study rooms, carrels for individual study and a distinctive ramp of bleachers leading up into the library.  This new library is bound to revitalize the campus and significantly impact the student experience.” [from a Library Jury Member]

Architect“Within  a small foot print, this project manages to do a lot for the campus, creating a dramatic campus gateway and rationalizing the relationship between campus entry an existing buildings. The jury was impressed with the buildings bold simple form and elegant exterior envelope as well as the tiered learning spaces that connected the two levels. The interiors were found to be bright and uplifting. A great example of how a library can become the defining gesture for a campus.” [from an Architect Jury Member]

See the complete award submission document for the Centennial College Ashtonbee Campus Library for a wealth of additional material: photos, statements from the Library and the architect, floor plans, and costing information.

The 2016 OLA New Library Building Award WinnersCentennial College Ashtonbee Campus Renewal & LibraryToronto Public Library Fort York Branch LibraryHaliburton County Public Library Wilberforce BranchRyerson University Student Learning CentreToronto Public Library Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

House of Books No More

If you open a browser on your phone, tablet or computer and search for the definition of a library, you might find the following:

“A library is a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed.” (Dictionary.com)

While historically accurate, this definition pales in comparison to the modern day library’s design, structure and use.

On July 6, 2015 at the OLA’s Annual Institute of the Library as Place, four Ontario libraries alongside partnering architectural firms received the OLA Library Building Award for outstanding renovations to libraries. Below, we present a virtual tour alongside accolades for the award winners, and we’ll demonstrate how libraries are learning commons, discovery labs, and community hubs – and not just a house for books.

Carleton University MacOdrum Library (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

Carleton-web

“The library has transformed from a dark, unloved and difficult place to use, to learn, into a bright, functional and beautiful space. The rigid geometry of the space is off-set by the sculptural, warm, staircase, providing a dose of whimsy in the space, enlivening the reading space and reflecting the warmth of the built space. The reflective qualities of the façade, and transparency of the glazing under certain light conditions, and the opaque nature of elements, combine to provide a highly emotive, rich and inviting building that invites learning.”

More photos ….

Kitchener Central Library (LGA Architectural Partners)

Kitchener-web

“The architects and library staff have succeeded in a spectacular transformation of the Kitchener Central Library. The newly created and renovated spaces have established the library as a destination of choice with spaces that invite both engagement and contemplation.  “Flux”, the dramatic public art installation at the main entrance, the playful floral wall in the children’s program room and the beautifully preserved mural in the great room welcome library visitors and create a sense of wonder. The design allows for views through the building making it easy for visitors to orient themselves to the library and there are myriad spaces provided for collaborative discussions or independent study. Every element was designed with a focus on offering Kitchener residents a reason to be proud to call their transformed Central ‘my library’.”

More photos …

Ottawa Public Library, Beaverbrook Branch (Moriyama & Teshima Architects)

Ottawa-web

“The architects have created a strong public gesture by framing the library’s key public space sequence and defining entry through well integrated and playful public art component. The articulation of a wooden interior to the architectural frame and the use of two story wood mullions creates a material richness at the threshold of the public realm. This is a great example of a modest budget, strategically deployed for maximum effect.”

More photos …

Toronto Public Library, Mount Denis Branch (G. Bruce Stratton Architects)

Mount-Denis-web

“On the leading edge of the neighbourhood improvement process, the refreshed Mount Dennis library has a strong presence on the street, with welcoming views into the library “living room”.  The inviting redesign of the interior layout maximizes the full potential of the 11,350 square feet space, leading intuitively to several different program areas that respond to the diversity of the community. Special features include a new KidsStop interactive early literacy centre, an art lounge, and an outdoor reading garden created by transforming an adjacent alleyway.  Every square foot is effectively used!  Dynamic library space for a developing neighbourhood.”

More photos …

Annesha Hutchinson is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Ontario Library Association. She currently tweets for @ONLibraryAssoc. She can be reached at ahutchinson [at] accessola.com.

Colin Ellard & the Meanings of Space

Colin Ellard is a professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo. His obsession is space … how we navigate through it and make sense of it.

Colin Ellard

Colin Ellard

“I’m fascinated by the many ways that the settings of our lives affect how we think and feel. The stories of our lives can be told using maps—maps of migrations, travel adventures, old neighbourhoods, the insides of our homes, and our social networks. Our relationships with space and place reach into every corner of our lives from the mundane (how do we find our way to the grocery store?) to the sublime (what is it about the space inside a large cathedral that takes our breath away?).”

Ellard was the keynote speaker at the 2015 OLA Annual Institute for the Library as Place. I interviewed him just before he spoke.

 

Michael Ridley is the Editor-in-Chief of Open Shelf. He is a Librarian and Instructor (First Year Seminar program) at the University of Guelph.

 

Carnegie Libraries: The Next Generation

Between 1900 and 1923 Andrew Carnegie’s program of library philanthropy provided 125 library buildings in Canada, 111 of these in Ontario. Some — too many — have been torn down, and others retrofitted for uses other than library service. But many, almost 70%, still stand. They have passed their centennial anniversary and have been adapted to modern use.

Modern public libraries should

  • be accessible and user friendly inside and out
  • have seamless integration of technology
  • include more space for people and computers
  • be flexible and have room for expansion
  • include comfortable seating with fireplace

(Anne Marie Madziak “22 Recent and Enduring Design Trends in Ontario Public Libraries”).

Most Carnegie buildings have similar designs – square stone or brick edifices with multiple sets of stairs, their similarity in design a function of the preferences of the times, not mandated by Carnegie.

The elevated entry paid homage to the concept that libraries were institutes of higher learning, but are incompatible with today’s accessible standards.

Flexibility, technology and accessibility and even the addition of “more space” are difficult concepts to integrate into a building designed more than a century ago. Small spaces with solid walls are not “flexible”, and the original buildings did not accommodate electrical wiring and computer cabling. An addition – often larger than the original – is difficult to integrate and still maintain the uniqueness and symmetry of the original design.

The only part of the original design that meets modern needs is the fireplace, with, if space allows, comfortable seating.

Many century- old Carnegies in smaller towns have been successfully expanded, renovated and modernized, including Ayr, Bracebridge, Brockville, Dresden, Listowel, Owen Sound, and Mount Forest. A 2008 renovation in Mitchell (pictured above) almost doubled the size of the library and added gallery space.

Hespeler Library

Hespeler Library (Idea Exchange, Cambridge)

A spectacular renovation in Hespeler created an award winning design – Carnegie under glass. Brockville is one of the few old Carnegie buildings with a corner entry, a design feature that was considered wasteful, and discouraged by Carnegie secretary James Bertram in later years. The corner entry has since been closed off, and like many other old libraries, the new entry has moved around the side, and is at street level.

One of the more recent renovations, re-opened in 2012 is Harriston, in the County of Wellington. The $3 million expansion almost doubled the size of the original, and added meeting rooms, accommodation for the Harriston Historical Society and the Minto Arts Council, as well as making the building accessible for everyone. The renovation remained consistent with the original style, including a tin roof and stained glass windows in the addition.

Speaking of Harriston, Wellington County Chief Librarian Murray McCabe said:

“It’s a revitalized building, and to think the investment lasted a hundred years the first time, and with this re-investment the building will last another hundred years.”

Renovation and investment such as in Harriston will breathe new life into Carnegie heritage buildings for the next century, serving generations to come.

Rudi Denham has worked in public, regional and county libraries in three provinces for more than 30 years.  Since 2006, she has been CEO at St. Thomas Public Library.

The Best Gift[Editor’s Note: For more on this topic see The Best Gift: A Record of Carnegie Libraries in Ontario by Margaret Beckman, Stephen Langmead, and John Black].