Let there be light! – Art installation #7 (cool thing #25) – A new central Calgary Public Library for @calgarylibrary

From the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s press release today…

“The New Central Library has been a long time coming, and moving forward with this project was a key part of my platform when I was first elected,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “When City Council created the Community Investment Fund in 2011, we also created a mechanism to finalize the funding of a New Central Library that will serve the needs of a growing population now and into the future. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together—The City of Calgary, CMLC, Calgary Public Library, and all citizens. The New Central Library will be a new icon for Calgarians and a jewel of public space and opportunity for all.”

The prime design consultant team, Snøhetta + DIALOG, deeply understand that a library is far more than just a building with books – something that’s evident in every aspect of the final design.

“Since embarking on this project, one of the things we’ve kept reminding ourselves is that we don’t just want to build the best library in the world. We want to build the library that’s best for Calgary.” Craig Dykers of Snøhetta explains, “At this moment in time, with the city conditions that surround us, with the different needs of all of you in the community, we continue to ask ourselves, how we are going to make the right library?”

From me…

The City is laying a bridge with this architectural icon to connect the long neglected East Village to downtown Calgary. City Hall was built with its back to East Calgary. This new building brings the area back into the fold and celebrates it as a beacon for our bright future as a whole with no area left out. That’s Nenshi building a different legacy for the city.

When East Village is completed in 2027 there will be more than 11,000 residents. They will have the RiverWalk, St. Patrick’s Island Park, the National Music Centre and an urban shopping centre to enjoy along with this inspiring gathering place that will be our new Central Calgary Public Library. This isn’t the first time a new library has acted as a beacon of light for our city.

The first library in Calgary at Central Memorial Park was opened in 1912. The Women’s Literacy group of Alberta applied for a building grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Carnegie had come from nothing in Scotland to become the wealthiest man in the world. He was a firm believer in the ability of learning, books and free libraries in inspiring and lifting humanity to its full potential. He funded over 2500 public libraries in the world and our first library was one of them. That building was built in a feminine Beaux Arts style and raised on a pedestal in honour of the women who got it built. It was Alberta’s first library and brought some balance to our “rough and ready” existence at the time. Central Memorial Library is set in a park, is still open and still very beautiful 100 years later.

It’ll be exciting for our children’s children to see what the next 100 years and this new library inspire. And isn’t it right that all this new light is rising from the East…Village.

I like these two libraries. They are beautiful bookends in our city’s history. Libraries truly shed light and help us savour it all.

Central Memorial Library

Central Memorial Library

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