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BUILDING
 
 
Halifax Central Library
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DESIGNER
 
 
Schmidt Hammer Lassen
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CONTEXT
 
Location
Halifax Central Library, Nova Scotia, Canada, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Fowler Bauld & MitchellThe new Halifax Central Library is to be sited on a prominent position in downtown Halifax. The site itself is bound by the heritage neighbourhood of Schmidtville, the historic Citadel Hill, Dalhousie University School of Architecture and the busiest shopping street east of Montreal, Spring Garden Road. The new library will become a multifunctional cultural hub with direct accessibility to the vibrant surrounding urban context of historic and new buildings, and the buzz of downtown. When finished the library building will stand as an iconic reflection of the diversity of the community and modern life within the municipality as a whole, and stand as a flagship for all 14 branch libraries servicing the whole municipality.

Halifax Central Library, Nova Scotia, Canada, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Fowler Bauld & MitchellThe construction of the library is essentially cubic in form with four significant 'volumes' vertically placed on top of one another with a horizontally twisted and shifted facade alignment. A number of distinctive cantilevers and one signature larger cantilevered element create a voluminous expression whereas the remaining façades align elegantly with the neighbouring façade of the classic architecture of Dalhousie University’s Architecture School. From the top of the building access to an open green roof terrace provides a unique view towards Halifax Harbour, Citadel Hill, the historic George’s Island, Dartmouth and onto McNabs Islands that reaches out towards the North Atlantic Ocean.

Every stage of the architectural design process has been carried out through extensive monthly public consultations; and several workshops with various focus groups have been held. Live streaming on the library's website has ensured all future users of the library have had a substantial influence on the design process. The citizens of Halifax have welcomed this initiative by participating in these events and have provided important contributions, for instance the way green space is represented within the building and how light is brought into the building, the establishment of private spaces and also the priority of seating and workspaces.

The new Halifax Central Library is the most significant public building to be built in Halifax in a generation, and will represent the diverse communities, talents, and creativity of the residents of Halifax throughout the municipality and present this to the world.
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DESCRIPTION
 
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Halifax Central Library, Nova Scotia, Canada, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Fowler Bauld & Mitchell
A civic landmark
As the new schmidt hammer lassen Halifax Central Library Nova Scotia Canada opens to the public on 13 December 2014, the citizens of Halifax, Canada, have been given a civic landmark which has already received international recognition. The contract to design the 15,000 m2 library was won in an international competition in 2010 by the Danish schmidt hammer lassen architects and local firm Fowler Bauld & Mitchell. Sited on a prominent location in the heart of Halifax, the library stands as a cultural hub accessible to everyone and as a result of what can be achieved through co-creation.

The new Halifax Central Library has an open, welcoming design which reflects the city’s diverse population and heritage. The building is a catalyst for the regeneration of the downtown area and the product of an extensive co-creation process involving monthly public consultations and workshops with various focus groups.

The exterior of the library appears as four rectangular shapes placed on top of one another and horizontally twisted to relate to the two diagonal directions that are dominant in the otherwise orthogonal grid of the city.

“Halifax is a city whose maritime heritage calls for attention when designing a new public building. Therefore, the historical axis between the Halifax Citadel and the Halifax Harbour, crossing right through the library site, is reflected in the orientation of the fifth floor of the building containing the Halifax Living Room hereby providing not only a unique view but also an understanding of the city’s historical heritage,” explains Founding Partner Morten Schmidt of schmidt hammer lassen architects.

schmidt hammer lassen Halifax Central Library Nova Scotia CanadaThe interior of the library reflects the diversity of the exterior with stairs and bridges in the atrium connecting the five storeys. The light-filled atrium gives an overview of the wide range of facilities the library offers, including a 300-seat performance space, two cafés, gaming stations, music studios, dedicated space for adult literacy classes, a First Nations reading circle, and boardrooms for local entrepreneurs. The entire second floor is dedicated to children and young adults with areas designed for each age group, ranging from toddlers to teens.

“The new Halifax Central Library is a modern, hybrid library. It combines the best of a traditional library with new and innovative programmes and facilities,” explains Partner Chris Hardie from schmidt hammer lassen architects. “By designing a library that is adaptable we embrace multiple functions to ensure that the library will meet the needs of the Halifax community into the future. People should see this building not only as a library but as a free public space in the heart of the city.”

On the topic of modern libraries, Morten Schmidt adds: “Modern libraries are one of the most important platforms for exchanging knowledge. As opposed to information found on the internet, the knowledge that arises through collaboration and exchange between people in a library is of particular significance. The new Halifax Central Library is a cultural hub, a vital centre for learning and a civic landmark for the entire community.”

schmidt hammer lassen architects has an extensive track-record of designing libraries; the most renowned of these may be the extension to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark and the RIBA Award-winning University of Aberdeen New Library in Scotland. Earlier this year, the first library designed by the architectural practice in Canada was opened in Edmonton. In 2015 DOKK1, the new public library in Aarhus, Denmark, will be completed; it will be the largest of its kind in Scandinavia.
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schmidt hammer lassen Halifax Central Library Nova Scotia Canada
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VIDEO
 
 

















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ECO-SUSTAINABILITY'
 
schmidt hammer lassen Halifax Central Library Nova Scotia CanadaThe project is aiming ambitiously towards a LEED Gold certification. The façade of the building is intended to reflect the local history of the site which was once a central local 'garden' and significant green space within the heart of the city. An abstracted 'leaf' motif of varying densities creates a façade that appears more solid in some areas, yet fully open in others reflecting the strong seasonal nature of the much loved trees that surround the site. The approach is to combine this local reference with that of a Scandinavian design signature and to create a modern hybrid library building that will stand out from other public buildings.
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LOCATION
 
Continent
North America
Nation
Canada
Province
Nova Scotia
Municipality
Halifax
Town
Halifax
Address
Spring Garden Road / Queen Street
 
 
Telephone
+1.(902).490.5744
Website
E-mail
central@halifax.ca
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
Main
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for cultural activities
Libraries and media libraries
Additional
ARCHITECTURE
Education buildings
Auditorium
Commercial buildings
Bars, cafeterias
Transport buildings and structures
Garages, car parking, etc.
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
2010     project winner of limited competiton
Realisation
2011 - 2014
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AWARDS
 
2016
Halifax Central Library, Nova Scotia, Canada, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Fowler Bauld & MitchellGovernor General's Medal in Architecture
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
Canada Council for the Arts


Jury comment:
"This outstanding new civic building is a community gathering place that responds to the diversity of its users, accommodating many more activities than the traditional library. This 21st century facility is topped by the Halifax Living Room: an inviting, light, and playful public space with views across Halifax as far as the harbour. Other spaces provide for learning, reading, exercising, studying, hanging out, and playing. The reception area’s generous atrium with its beautiful stairway is the hub connecting the functions and users. The jury commends the process of early user engagement that led to the design, and the public’s embrace of the building is a testament to its value."
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BIBILIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
 
 
"Building types study: 956. Civic design", Architectural Record 3/2015, march 2015, pp. 71-113
Beth Broome, "Halifax Central Library, Halifax, Nova Scotia", Architectural Record 3/2015, march 2015, pp. 84-89 (71-113)
Brian Carter, "Maritime monument", Canadian Architect 2/2015, february 2015 [Libraries], pp. 12-17
"Give dialogue" in schmidt hammer lassen architects (ed.), Give more, Aedes, Berlin 2012, pp. 60-67
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CLIENT
 
 
Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Public Libraries
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AMOUNT
 
 
€ 32,800,000
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Surface
sq.m. 15,000
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STRUCTURES
 
 
SNC Lavalin Inc.
Ove Arup
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN
 
 
Gordon Ratcliffe Landscape Architect
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STAFF
 
Project
schmidt hammer lassen architects
Associate designers
Fowler Bauld & Mitchell
Mechanical engineer
CBCL Limited
Ove Arup
Electrical engineer
CBCL Limited
Ove Arup
Civil engineer
SNC Lavalin Inc.
Interior design
schmidt hammer lassen architects
Fowler Bauld & Mitchell
Consultant
Myrgan Inc. (Public Consultation)
Sustainability
Solterre Design
Acoustical consultant
Swallow Acoustic Consultants Ltd.
Building code
RJ Bartlett Engineering Ltd.
Curtain wall consultant
BVDA Façade Engineering Ltd.
Aerodynamics and weather resistant consultant
Theakston Environmental Consulting Engineers (Wind & Snow Environmental)
Third party commissioning
FC O'Neill Scriven & Assoc. Ltd.
Gestione del progetto
Halifax Regional Municipality
Construction supervision
EllisDon Corporation
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Adam Mørk
Drawings © schmidt hammer lassen architects
Text edited by schmidt hammer lassen architects
Courtesy of schmidt hammer lassen architects | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
schmidt hammer lassen Halifax Central Library Nova Scotia Canada



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