The design is the direct result of an unprecedented public co-design process that asked Ottawa residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from across the country to provide inspiration at every stage. This collaborative engagement process helped shape all aspects of the facility, inside and out. Public input informed the shape of the building, its entrances, the interaction and location of its spaces, the indoor look and ambience, the inclusive and sustainable features, the landscaping and public art, and the exterior materials. Public and Indigenous engagement for the facility will continue as we finalize the design and move forward with the next stages of the project.
Following the reveal of a 3-D model of the facility, Donald Schmitt, Principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects and Lead Architect for the project, helped bring the building to life by sharing a video walk-through and renderings. Today, the more than 4,000 people who came together in-person and online over the past year to share their ideas and insights with the partners and architects can finally see their inspiration realized.
The design connects the facility to Ottawa’s rich history and natural beauty: its shape is reminiscent of the Ottawa River; its stone and wood exterior reflects the adjacent escarpment and surrounding greenspace. The large windows and top floors offer unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. With its central town hall, children’s discovery centre, genealogy centre, reading rooms, creative centre, meeting rooms, cafés and stunning views, the new facility will be a welcoming home for the stories of Canadians and Ottawa residents.
When it opens to the public in late 2024, the Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be a landmark destination in the national capital built on the shared values and passions of the partner institutions: knowledge, history, discovery, culture, creativity, collaboration, and connections. This innovative collaboration between a public library and the national library and archives will offer an enriched experience for customers and clients, bringing together diverse collections, providing exhibition and event spaces, along with comfortable gathering spaces and free and open access to millions of documents and the rich Canadian documentary heritage.
The public is invited to view the 3-D model, meet the architects and celebrate this important milestone at an Open House from 4 pm to 8 pm today in the Alma Duncan Salon at the Ottawa Art Gallery. They can also view the architectural renderings and video, experience virtual reality stations, and share their thoughts at Inspire555.ca.
“After completing an extensive public consultation process, we celebrated a major milestone by revealing the architects’ stunning design for our new Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada joint facility. This signifies a very exciting time in our city and brings us one step closer to getting shovels in the ground. I want to thank everyone involved in this process for their input, their work and their creativity in helping us create this world-class destination for residents and visitors. The inspirational design showcases how this facility is more than just a building with books; it will be a welcoming gathering space for us all.”
Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa
“Today is a very special day as it marks an important step forward in improving the visibility and accessibility of our cultural heritage. The unveiling today of the architectural design of this new world-class public facility in Ottawa is no small feat. Our government is proud to be a part of this project, one of the first federal-municipal partnerships of its kind, right here in Canada’s capital city!”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“This historic collaboration between the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada will push for unique works of art, programs and exhibition spaces. This design reveal is the next step in creating a world-class destination in the Nation’s capital that residents of Ottawa, Canadians and visitors from all over the world can come to experience.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
“Today is a great day for Ottawa Public Library! I am incredibly proud of the work my colleagues on the OPL Board and I have done over the years to champion this once-in-a-generation project. After a six-year journey, we can celebrate this major milestone for OPL and our great city. Public libraries have always been pillars of their communities, helping people to reach their potential and fulfill their dreams. The reveal of the design of the OPL-LAC Joint Facility celebrates the power of our connection with the community, which came together in an unprecedented public co-design process to inspire the building, inside and out. The result? The OPL-LAC Joint Facility will be a welcoming, beautiful and inclusive space; one where people gather, learn, discover, and explore their creativity.”
Councillor Tim Tierney, Chair, Ottawa Public Library Board
“We are very proud to be revealing the design for an iconic building that truly represents the evolution of libraries as centres of knowledge and culture around the world. It’s also a great joy to share this design with the thousands of residents and Canadians who provided so much inspiration at each stage of the process. This has been a wonderful experience for all of us.”
Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects