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Monday, February 25, 2013

New Central Library on its way to being realized

An artist rendering to showcase the council approved location - not the architectural design.
Today, the new Central Library project celebrated a major milestone thanks to City Council’s unanimous decision to approve foundational elements bringing the project one step closer to reality.

“I am very pleased with the decision made by Council today,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “This will be a critical community space that inspires thought, collaboration and conversation. I can’t wait to see it take shape!”

By providing approval, Council has validated the project’s engagement practices to date as well as the Master Program; confirmed Calgary Municipal Land Corporation as the developer of Block 127 (upon which the building will reside) and approved the release of funds required to move this project forward (including those from the Community Investment Fund and capital reserves) – essentially allowing the momentum that the project has generated over the past 18 months to continue.

“It has been a joy to watch the excitement and anticipation build throughout the past year and a half,” said City of Calgary Alderman and Calgary Public Library Board Member Druh Farrell.  “With more than 16,500 voices heard to date, I can only imagine the level of public participation throughout the design process. We are truly excited to get started on this next chapter of the new Central Library.”

 As outlined in the Master Program, the new Central Library will undergo a competitive, fair and transparent process to procure an architect and design for the building. More information regarding the process will be forthcoming over the next several months.

The Calgary Public Library, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and The City of Calgary have been working collaboratively to advance the planning of the new Central Library. While public engagement was occurring, several parallel tracks of work  took place, including: a Calgary Public Library operational review; assessment of Block 127 in consideration of the revitalization of East Village; analysis of initial cost estimates; an examination of the physical site to determine development options and the development of the Master Program.

The Master Program will guide the next phase of work. It outlines space requirements for all items in the library, work areas, staff and public spaces.

“This will be an inspiring destination for Calgarians of every age and ability, providing rich resources for every interest and spaces for community,” says Ellen Humphrey, Interim CEO, Calgary Public Library. “Citizens told us they desire a place that is welcoming, inclusive and accessible, where they can experience the joys of reading, learn new skills, have fun with their families, and connect with each other and with a world of information and ideas. For Calgarians, the new Central Library will also act as an agent for community building, social inclusion and engagement. As heart and hub of a growing network across the city, it will help shape service delivery in every library location.”

By 2018, it is anticipated that Calgarians will have a brand new, thoughtfully designed leading edge library. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation has been appointed by Council as the developer to manage, coordinate and supervise the design and construction of the new Central Library on Block 127 in the East Village.

“We’re thrilled that the new Central Library has chosen East Village as its future home,” says Michael Brown, President and CEO, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. “It represents a key cultural and educational amenity for the neighbourhood and informs a large part of our placemaking efforts. We look forward to working with The City and the Calgary Public Library in the delivery of this critical piece of community infrastructure.”

Based on the components within the Master Program, the new Central Library is anticipated to be 39 per cent larger with 54 per cent more usable space than the current central library. Initial space plans for the new Central Library total 286,000 square feet, including 40,000 square feet (approximately one floor plate) for future library expansion and public space. Within the total square footage, 17 functional components were identified along with their estimated space requirements. The emphasis was on providing publicly accessible space in a highly community-oriented public space; not including future expansion space, 74 per cent of the space is public space, including collections space, and 26 per cent is non-public (back of house) space.

Funding for the $245 million project has come from a number of sources:
  • $40 million from a 2004 Council direction
  • $135 million from the Community Investment Fund
  • $70 million from the Community Revitalization Levy  
Sponsorship opportunities will be explored throughout the duration of the project.

The Calgary Public Library is one of the largest public libraries in North America and the second largest public library system in Canada.  Citizens visit the library’s 18 branches more than five million times each year and borrow nearly 17 million books, DVDs, e-resources and other materials. The number of visits to the library is more than all cultural, sporting and community events held in Calgary annually combined.

The new Central Library will replace the current facility which opened in 1963, when Calgary’s population was one-quarter its current size. Although the library expanded in 1974, it is over capacity with the facility requiring costly upgrades. The branch will remain open until the new Central Library is complete.

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