The iconic design of the new Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility draws its inspiration from many sources: from the beauty of the natural world and its location overlooking the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills; from the rich history of the city and region; from Indigenous history, heritage and culture; and from the role of the building as a gathering space for all. To learn more about some of the building’s interior spaces, see “The Spaces” section.
Water, stone and wood form the basis of the design that was conceived so that textures and themes are as prominent during the day as they are at night.
The waved roof, warm wood and grey stone of the facility’s exterior represent the landscape and its materials. The architects have created a design that connects to our Nation’s Capital’s rich history and natural beauty: its shape is reminiscent of the Ottawa River; its stone and wood exterior reflects the escarpment and the surrounding greenspace.
Cedar that has been treated and sealed to resist the winter weather as well as the sun’s natural wear. The building’s warm tones will complement the changing seasons.
The windows, top floors and rooftop offer unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau hills. The glass windows, ranging from clear to tinted, will be covered with a ceramic fritting to reduce the risk of bird collisions. The Indigenous Art program will inform the design of this fritting, which will cover the building and support the partners’ commitment to a bird-friendly design.
The site for the Joint Facility is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinābe Algonquin people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. The land surrounding the Chaudière Falls is a sacred meeting place for the Anishinābe Algonquin and other First Nations, associated with a portage and trade route for Indigenous people along the Ottawa River.
The idea of a community public library and national library and archives on this site presents an opportunity to examine the nature of knowledge transfer and learning that will take place in the building, and how it relates to the local Anishinābe Algonquin People as well as Indigenous communities in Ottawa and across the country.
Accessibility and Inclusivity
The design of the facility offers the opportunity to create a building that is accessible, inclusive, welcoming and open to all. Universal accessibility is an important objective in the building design. Through the application of stringent universal design standards, the goal is to be the most accessible building in the National Capital Region.
Here are five main features that will make the building inclusive:
- multiple entrances
- glass elevators
- all gender washrooms
- sensory rooms
- interior ramps
Maximizing the environmental sustainability of the building was a major focus during the design phase of the Joint Facility.
It will have many features that will make it a model of green infrastructure in the national capital. Thanks to additional funding from the federal government in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the building will meet the standards to be a net-zero carbon building. Net-zero carbon buildings reduce energy consumption to a minimum through building design strategies and efficiency measures to the point where the use of non-carbon-based energy sources becomes practical.
The building’s material choices also contribute to the building’s net zero design: reclaimed wood, enhanced energy efficient lighting, improved indoor air quality filtration, a green wall, sequestered carbon in the concrete, solar cells are on rooftops panels as well as integrated into building exteriors, and an increased R insulation rating throughout.
Here are some other features that will make the new facility a sustainable building:
- an important community living space at the heart of the national capital, surrounded by green parklands and trees with the river running nearby
- native plants
- a green roof
- large-scale use of natural materials, including wood and stone
- more sustainable building materials, inside and out
- upgraded insulation
- triple-glazed windows
- abundant natural light inside the building
- a bird-friendly design
- recycling and composting equipment
- connection to the federal government’s heating and cooling district energy system
- access by public transit, bicycle paths and walking trails
- digitized tools and content at LAC to reduce the need for researchers to commute to Ottawa for basic reference questions
Learn more about some of the interior spaces in the building, please consult the Spaces section.