This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Print Page | Sign In | Join
Calgary Central Library

Custom Coating and Aluminum Extrusions Add Distinctive Effects to Façade of Calgary Central Library

The city of Calgary has reimagined what a library should be, and how it serves its patrons, with a stunning architectural marvel that reflects the Canadian landscape and a diverse population. The Calgary Central Library, which opened in November 2018, features a dynamic crystalline geometry façade that incorporates more than 460 alternating polygonal panels of fritted glass and iridescent aluminum. Aluminum extrusions feature prominently in the façade's building components, offering a striking design for the flagship branch of the Calgary Public Library in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The new library hopes to welcome twice as many annual visitors to its expanded facility, which is two-thirds larger than the original building.

The building was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta in partnership with Canadian firm DIALOG after the two firms' joint bid won a design competition in 2013. The architects selected PPG Duranar™ coatings for the window frames and other extruded aluminum components to evoke snowflakes or ice cracking on a lake. Hydro Portland, located in Oregon, and APEL Extrusions of Calgary, produced the extrusions and finished the metal with PPG Duranar colors, including Standard Bright White and Broken Ice, a custom color topped by a pearlescent PPG Duranar clearcoat. "APEL supplied lineals for the external and internal Cap System used on the project, primarily on the now-famous front façade," explained John Finney, Sales Manager for APEL Extrusions. In total, the company produced and finished nearly 74,400 pounds of extrusions consisting of eight different custom profiles in five different finishes for the project.

An elliptical skylight provides a feeling of openness, bringing in natural light centered on a four-story central atrium over a 240,000-square-foot interior. Transitioning from the 'livelier' public areas on the ground floor to quieter study areas on the upper levels, the fritted glass panels are used to shield private study areas while clear glass offers views of the outside.

According to the architects, "The crystalline geometry of the façade is carved away to reveal an expansive wood archway that embraces visitors as they approach. Framing the entrance of the building, the form references the Chinook cloud arches common to the region."

Sited within a rapidly growing urban center, the new Calgary Central Library was designed over a fully functional light rail transit line that divides Downtown and the city's East Village neighborhood on a curved half-moon path. Incorporating this line was a key competition requirement; the arc of the building design follows the curve of the track. The rail platform is enclosed underneath the building, making the library a hub of activity on the edge of downtown Calgary.

The striking hexagonal design motif was carried through to the inside of the building, even down to the library staff's vests and was adopted as the logo of the city's entire library system. One of Architectural Digest magazine's most anticipated buildings of 2018, the new Calgary Central Library was designed to achieve LEED® Gold-level certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Photos here and in home page slide show: © Michael Grimm Photography