Kitchener Central Library

Kitchener, Ontario

The Kitchener Central Library renovation harmoniously blends modern and contemporary design to strengthen Kitchener’s reputation as a hub for information, imagination, and community.

 

Levitt Goodman Architects in association with Walter Fedy Partnership and Phillip H Carter Architect

The Kitchener Central Library renovation was designed to match the region’s reputation for creative innovation. The project transformed the 1962 building designed by Carl Reider from a place for “reading and researching” to one of “meeting, making and learning”.  The scope included preserving the original building, improving its energy performance, and expanding the building by 30,000ft² for new programming, technology, and accessibility. The project also added a three-level underground parking garage to service the entire Civic District and free up street-level space for a public square. 

Our solution was to wrap the facade with a high-efficiency curtain wall. At night, the glass wall all but disappears, showcasing the arches of the original design and inviting views of the activities within. Fluctuating, colourful LED lights embedded in the glass whimsically reference books on a shelf and the library’s contemporary image.

Inside, sunlight now pervades formerly dark spaces, and helps to transform the main reading room into a “front porch”. There, we also restored the library’s feature mural, “Enlightenment” by local painter Jack Bechdel, and enhanced its presence with a faceted ceiling scattered with lights resembling stars in the night sky. The ceiling compliments the painting, and also dampens sound in the cavernous space that now includes a café, suggesting to visitors that they can comfortably talk move the furniture, or gather for live performances and events.

The renovation gracefully weaves the old with the new, reinforcing the importance of preserving local history along with the sustainable benefits and capital cost savings of retaining the existing structure. And at the same time the library now has a new informality appropriate to welcome longstanding residents and new immigrants alike, thereby strengthening Kitchener’s community and wellbeing.

LGA’s thoughtful design… perfectly reflects this mixture of mid-century idealism and contemporary coziness. Their aesthetic favours accretion and variety, and the library mixes materials and textures freely: floors in dappled Algonquin limestone; exposed concrete ceilings with the texture of a waffle; ceiling panels in a light birch; and new shelves and cabinetry made of a warm-hued walnut.

 

– Alex Bozikovic, Globe & Mail

Awards

2015 Ontario Library Association Library Building Award

Media

Interior worlds – (May 2015) Kitchener Central Library
Globe and Mail – (June 2015) How libraries are getting bright, loud and friendly
Designing Libraries – (June 2015 Canadian public library wins building award)
Canadian Facility Management and Design –  (May 2015) Kitchener Public Library gets digital reboot
Canadian Interiors – (June 2015) LGA Architectural Partners wins major award for its redesign of the Kitchener Main Branch Public Library
Canadian Architect – (February 2015) Modernist Revisions