NCL Site, May 2016

NCL Site, May 2016

Right on schedule to open in late 2018, construction of the New Central Library is progressing like clockwork. Phase one – the building skeleton – is rapidly moving forward, with increasingly recognizable structures starting to take shape. Pass by the build site or follow the progress on the construction-site webcam (where photos are updated every 10 minutes) and you will see strikingly noticeable changes every few days. With more than 100 people working on the complex build each day, the future library is a hive of industry.


Two massive cranes, installed for the duration of construction, stretch up into the sky from opposite corners of the construction site. Between them, three vast vertical concrete cores, which will provide structural support within the library, tower over the LRT encapsulation.


Encapsulation of the LRT line – which provides the foundation upon which the library is being built – was completed in spring 2015. That engineering feat required only nine weekend shutdowns of the train line, with no unplanned service outages.


At the northern tip of the LRT encapsulation, a second temporary encapsulation has now been built to safely allow for construction of the library’s prow. When complete, the prow will reach out toward the city, jutting out over the mouth of the tunnel that encases the LRT line. The temporary encapsulation is necessary to protect the train line from any construction activity and will be removed once the prow of the library is complete.


The southern block of the NCL is where progress is most noticeable. The all-steel structure is being constructed independently of the rest of the building. Without the time constraints that go into the building of a concrete structure – the pouring, curing, setting and form-stripping – steel can be lifted into place and installed in the southern block as quickly as it is delivered onto the site.


Soon, 65-foot-long cross-braced metal trusses will be incorporated into the southern block to allow for the creation of the NCL’s most defining feature – the vast chinook arch-inspired passageway. The trusses are necessary to redirect the load of such a large span and allow for the western red cedar-clad archway to be structurally feasible.


“Everybody who is touching this building right now is so proud. This is a once-in-a-career type of building and we are all trying to soak it up as much as possible, because we want to do it right for Calgary. It’s a really unique feeling around the site.”Kate Thompson, vice president of projects, CMLC