The NCL: Challenges and Opportunities

The site of Calgary’s New Central Library, located just west of City Hall in East Village, fulfills many objectives: it keeps the NCL downtown so that many communities can access it, and it provides a key destination and link that will draw Calgarians from downtown through City Hall to the NCL and East Village.

At the same time, the site’s unique character is making the architects and developers do the best work of their careers. “Having a train running through it, a crescent moon shape, and the municipal building directly to the west offers unique challenges,” says Kate Thompson, development director for CMLC, the NCL’s developer.

The train challenge is being met through an encapsulation process that will cover the train in such a way that transit will be little affected during construction. The site shape challenge is going to produce a building that will be unlike any other. “The site is predetermining a great building,” Thompson says. “It can’t be boring and it can’t be basic just by virtue of where it is.”  

The NCL’s prime design consultants, Snøhetta of New York and Oslo and Calgary’s DIALOG, relished the opportunities offered by the shape the site. “We saw a great challenge in the site – something pushing back at us that would allow us to react in a unique way,” says Snøhetta founder Craig Dykers. “Those kinds of challenges prompt unique solutions.”

As for the proximity of City Hall to the site, well, the architects are hard at work making the connection both seamless and exciting.

The encapsulation process has already begun. The work in progress on the design will be shared with the public in early September. We’ll keep you posted on updates. Watch and hear architects and the development team discuss the NCL site here.