In yet another step closer to making a new main library building downtown a reality, the Guelph Public Library Board of Directors formally approved the architectural design for the new standalone building in the Baker District Redevelopment last night. The board promises that this building will be everything you want in 21st century library goodness, and now they wait for next week’s approval of the rest of the urban design master plan for the area.
The library board has not yet released the approved design, but it will apparently be a three-storey building that embraces inclusivity and flexibility, and reflect the things members of the pubic said they wanted during three years of public engagement, while being an “iconic” building that will “allow for the delivery of 21st-century library services.”
“From the beginning of our involvement in this project, community input has played a significant role in the development of the design,” said Duncan Bates in a statement. Bates is the architect from Diamond Schmitt, the firm hired to bring together all the lofty ambitions for the library, and combine them into a single facility.“
“We are incredibly proud to have had the ongoing opportunity to work alongside a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, councillors, members of the Library Board and most importantly, members of the community,” Bates added. “To hear and help develop inspiring thoughts about the future of our City, and to use these to steer and shape Guelph’s most important civic building in a generation, has been an incredible experience. The outcome is entirely reflective of the feedback we’ve heard from our community.”
In September, Bates took part in a virtual town hall with library board chair Scott Butler to unveil their latest designs for the new library building. At the time, a portion of the facility was actually four storeys, with the top level opening out onto a terrace that would overlook St. George’s Square. In this plan, the first floor would be home to the children’s library and the largest meeting room, while the second floor would hold fiction and more community meeting space and the third floor would be home to the non-fiction section and library administration and offices.
According to the Library’s media release, the new design will be released sometime later this fall once the final schematic design is approved by the board.
This announcement comes a few days in advance of a council meeting to approve the Baker District Urban Master Plan, which includes the layout of the block, the design of outdoor amenities, the public parking construction budget, and the sustainable neighbourhood action plan. Approval of the library design is not a part of these deliberations, but is a separate process overseen by the library board. Still, the fate of one kind of hinges on the success of the other.
“The Baker District, featuring the new Central Library, will be an immense benefit to the city,” said Butler in statement. “It has been a difficult process to get to this juncture. But everyone in Guelph is the better for it. This project has everything. An iconic new home for Ontario’s oldest public library. More retail. Affordable housing. More condos. Environmentally responsible outcomes. And beautiful new public spaces. It also cleverly addresses all transportation issues.”