CMLC construction crews begin installing 125,000 pounds of wooden soffits   

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – lead developer of Calgary’s New Central Library in the re-emerging neighbourhood of East Village – is celebrating yet another significant step forward in the construction of the library, with construction proceeding on schedule for the planned Grand Opening in fall 2018. 

“Ever since our prime architectural team of Snøhetta and DIALOG began to share its designs for the New Central Library, we’ve been fully confident that the facility will be world-class in every regard,” says Lyle Edwards, Chairman of CMLC’s Board of Directors. “With each new milestone in the library building’s construction program, we see ever more clearly just how dynamic and dramatic the New Central Library will be – a landmark building that every Calgarian can be proud of.”

Last week, CMLC’s construction crews began installing another prominent feature of the new library’s inspiring design: the curved wooden soffit panels that form the building’s archway. 
“The library building rises up over an open passageway at the heart of the site, creating both a visual connection and a pedestrian connection between East Village to the east and Calgary’s downtown core to the west,” explains Kate Thompson, VP Projects, CMLC. “Framed by wood-clad arches that reference the Chinook arch cloud formations so common to southern Alberta, the passageway is opening up an exciting new outdoor civic space within the city.”

Fabricated by StructureCraft, a timber design and construction company located in Delta, BC, the wood soffit makes up part of the ‘skin’ of the building – an architecturally striking feature of curved western red cedar battens flowing along the ceiling and down to the walls of the open passageway.

While every material chosen for the library contributes to the building’s overall aesthetic, each also has a specific function that goes far beyond its looks. The New Central Library’s western red cedar, which has been harvested from sustainably managed forests in British Columbia, is lightweight and naturally resistant to decay, making it perfect for exposed outdoor applications like the library’s archway.

Much like a ship’s hull, the cedar planks are secured to a Douglas fir framework, constructed and delivered in manageable panels. The panels are being suspended from the library structure with steel rods and cables. The New Central Library’s design calls for approximately 170 individual panels weighing, on average, 750 pounds (340 kilograms) each. That adds up to more than 125,000 lb (57,000 kg) of wood!

“A feature such as this wooden soffit necessitates very careful attention to detail,” says Jean-Baptiste Bachmann, Project Manager, StructureCraft Builders Inc. “When you consider the extreme weather conditions the wood will have to endure, the fine knife-edge interface with the glass façade and the fact that the soffit is prefabricated in panels that need to fit perfectly together on site, you have a considerable challenge. A dimensionally complex project like this has depended on close coordination between the design and fabrication teams.”

British Columbia's official tree, the western red cedar has been called “the cornerstone of Northwest Coast aboriginal culture,” as it has great spiritual significance. Coastal people used all parts of the tree. They used the wood for dugout canoes, house planks, bentwood boxes, masks and tools such as arrow shafts and paddles. From the inner bark they made rope, clothing, and baskets, while the long arching branches were twisted into rope and baskets. It was also used for many medicines.


Placement of final steel beam marks completion of building exterior and the start of FFE

(CALGARY, AB) • Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the organization responsible for redeveloping East Village and lead developer of the city’s New Central Library has reached another major milestone in the library construction program - the completion of Phase 2 – the skeletal framework of the building.

“Phase 2 – the raising of the building – has been in full swing since fall 2015, when CMLC’s crews completed the encapsulation of the LRT line that bisects the library site,” says Michael Brown, President & CEO, CMLC.

“We’ve laid the foundation, completed the three vertical concrete cores within the library, completed most of the exterior cladding and, and now we are finishing the installation of the system of massive steel trusses that form the library’s structural skeleton. We are now set to launch into the next exciting phase of construction development – the interior finishing. Beginning at the bottom and working upward, we’ll install the building’s mechanical and electrical systems and complete the drywall, millwork, paint, flooring and so on.”

“The placement of the final steel beam marks a huge milestone for us – and for all Calgarians,” says Janet Hutchinson, Calgary Public Library’s Board Chair. “It completes the framework of a new library we’ve been talking about and dreaming about for decades. And it’s happening precisely when CMLC’s construction schedule said it would, which means we’re right on track for our planned grand opening in fall 2018.”

The beam that’s causing all the excitement belongs to one of the five cross-braced steel trusses that form the building’s skeleton. And it’s a biggie. Weighing in at over 9,000 kilograms (20,000 pounds, or 10 tons), the last steel beam measures 13.4 metres (44 feet) long by 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) wide by just over 1.2 metres (4 feet) high.

Mind you, by New Central Library standards, this final beam could be considered a lightweight. The library’s longest steel beam – part of truss #4 – is nearly double the length at 25.37 metres (83.25 feet). And the heaviest, also belonging to truss #4, tips the scales at 45,933 kilograms (101,265 pounds) – more than five times the weight of the final beam.

To commemorate this significant milestone in bringing a new library – and a new landmark – to the city centre, CMLC is inviting all Calgarians to come to East Village until 2 pm today and contribute to the creation of a New Central Library time capsule.

“It’s a ‘Time Capsule of Steel’,” says Susan Veres, CMLC’s Senior VP Strategy & Business Development. “We’re inviting all citizens of Calgary to sign and inscribe messages of inspiration, hope, education and literacy (and more) on this huge steel beam.

“We’ve also invited Micheline Maylor – Calgary’s new Poet Laureate – to read and inscribe the beam with a poem she has written for this momentous occasion. Her poem is titled ‘Someday look up to this: a library’.”

The last beam will be lowered into its place within Truss 5 and encapsulated by cement at the end of April after six levels of concrete slab have been poured and have cured. At that point all public messages will be forever cast and embedded within the structure of the building – a true time capsule of messages - for future generations of Calgarians to appreciate.

Following the placement of the beam the project team shifts into the third phase of the construction program – the fit and finishing phase. This phase, the most detailed, will take another 16 months to complete and involves the heaviest amount of trade workers. The Calgary Public Library is expected to move its team into the new library by early fall 2018 and will prepare for the grand public opening.

Imagined as a mixed-use, amenity-rich master-planned neighbourhood in the downtown core, East Village will be home to more than 11,000 residents upon completion in 2027. With local amenities like RiverWalk, St. Patrick’s Island, the New Central Library, National Music Centre and an urban shopping centre, East Village has become a highly desirable neighbourhood in Calgary’s downtown core.


You may have noticed a lot of activity on the New Central Library site lately. Our curtain wall exterior is going up quickly and the structural steel (building frame) is changing the shape of the building daily.  Our construction pace is picking up as we plan to have the library open and ready for public enjoyment in Q4, 2018.

To this end, our teams are now preparing to do double-time! The attached notice describes that from Sept. 21 to Nov. 10, 2016 we will be extending our work shifts to 0200 hrs. (Yes, that’s either very early or really late, depending on your point of view!). The extra shift is designed to accommodate our steel installation program (welding and fitting).

So while you may hear us working late at night, rest assured we will not be in conflict with the allowable noise levels of the Community Standards Bylaw. Please call us with any concerns - 403-718-0300.


Large steel cross-member hoisted into position on New Central Library project

Quebec sub-contractor SuperMetal delivers 100,000-pound steel section

For all you structural engineers and construction buffs out there, today’s a great day to geek out!

Today in Calgary’s East Village, CMLC, Stuart Olson and subcontractor SuperMetal of Quebec are installing the largest steel cross-member of the Truss 4 support system for Calgary’s New Central Library. The Truss 4 support system – one of five truss systems that will form the building’s structural framework – comprises a total of 13 cross members. Of the 13, the section set in place today is the largest.

Measuring 75 feet (23 metres) in length and tipping the scales at around 100,000 pounds (45,000 kilograms), this gargantuan truss component is made up of 4-inch steel plates laminated together to create one solid section. To lift the huge cross-member into position, the crew is using a tandem lift – one mobile crane and a tower crane – with a combined lifting capacity of approximately 275,000 tons (250 tonnes)!

“The construction program for the New Central Library has been in full swing since vertical construction began almost a year ago,” says Michael Brown, CMLC President & CEO. “Last week we initiated installation of the building’s curtain wall, and this week we’re engineering one of the larger truss systems that form the building’s structural frame. Every week, it seems, there’s another construction milestone to celebrate!”

With the massive 100,000-lb cross-member in place, the remaining cross-members of the Truss 4 system can be positioned and welded in place. This welding program will take approximately six to eight weeks.

Imagined as a mixed-use, amenity-rich master-planned neighbourhood in the downtown core, East Village will be home to more than 11,000 residents upon completion in 2027. With local amenities like RiverWalk, St. Patrick’s Island, the New Central Library, National Music Centre and an urban shopping centre, East Village has become a highly desirable neighbourhood in Calgary’s downtown core.

For more information about CMLC and its redevelopment successes in East Village, visit  Visit our library construction webcam at