Vancouver Library Square

Completed following an international competition, Vancouver Library Square occupies a city block in an expanding section of downtown. The project comprises a central library, a federal office tower, retail and service facilities and an underground car park.

The library consists of a seven-storey rectangular block containing open book stacks, library services, and circulation. The block is surrounded by an ellipse - a freestanding, precast concrete double shell that holds reading and study areas that are accessed by bridges spanning skylit lightwells. These freestanding galleries serving various library departments are a re-interpretation of the great public reading rooms of the nineteenth century.

The library’s internal glass façade overlooks an enclosed concourse formed by a second elliptical wall that defines the east side of the site. This glass-roofed concourse serves as an entry foyer to the Library and the more lively pedestrian activities at ground level. The arcaded wall of the concourse ascends twenty-one storeys to the northeast, forming one face of the Federal Office Tower and creating continuity between the two structures.

The public spaces surrounding the library form a continuous piazza with parking located below grade. The library is clad in sandstone-coloured precast concrete. The office tower is similarly clad with a taut, glazed corner facing towards the city and the bay.

Vancouver Library Square has served as a catalyst for the revitalization of this area of downtown, which includes the addition of the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts across the street, also designed by Safdie.