This timelapse shows the site's construction progress, from LRT encapsulation in August 2014 all the way to October 2017, when the building became weather-tight – plus every crane lift and concrete pour in between!
Construction on the New Central Library began in 2013 with the LRT encapsulation, and is expected to be completed late in 2018. Our webcam keeps track of every step along the way by capturing a photo every 10 minutes. Visit often!
The New Central Library is a complex construction project led by CMLC and involving many teams that bring their expertise to various stages of the work. CMLC engaged Calgary firm MHPM as lead project manager, and part of that job is to manage a detailed schedule of construction milestones. Here’s what it looks like:
The architectural firm of Snøhetta, with local partners DIALOG, was engaged in the fall of 2013.
After extensive community consultation, Snøhetta and DIALOG presented an initial architectural design of the library to Calgarians early in 2014. The multi-level design seeks to respond to Calgary’s future library needs within a spectacular architectural form.
Initial structural, mechanical and electrical design stemming from the Concept Design is tested to ensure the design is viable.
Encapsulation of the CTrain track that bisected the site involved the creation of a tunnel-type construction that called for horizontal angering through the earth under the site.
EXTERIOR CLADDING DESIGN
The cladding on the outside of the library was designed to allow a carefully-controlled amount of light penetrate the building while also creating an intriguing geometric pattern that evokes the spread of ideas and possibilities. Detailed design work begins.
LRT ENCAPSULATION COMPLETION
With the successful encapsulation of the LRT track, the foundation on which to build the library was complete, and vertical construction of the library began.
Sub trades engaged to build the foundations for the library.
STRUCTURE AND EXTERIOR CLADDING TENDER
This tender seeks firms that can construct and deliver our unique cladding.
Building from the schematic design, the fundamental design layout of structure is done along with the detail to support it. Design questions answered in this stage include: how will the atrium feel? How do the rooms fit together? How will the stairs work?
INTERIOR CONSTRUCTION TENDER
From the vast atrium to the four levels of the NCL’s interior, this is an exciting part of the process.
Electrical and mechanical throughout the building, the interior finishing and the overall construction of the superstructure tender is awarded.
CONCRETE CORE COMPLETE
The three main vertical concrete cores within the library, which provide structural support, are completed.
The NCL starts to take shape. Sixty-five foot long cross-braced trusses are installed to create the frame of the soffit, the structure’s ‘underbelly’.
Additional cranes are brought onto the site in preparation for steel work.
SOUTH EXTERIOR FINISH COMPLETE
Exterior cladding starts on the south face of the structure. From 9 Ave SE, the south face of the building, the NCL will look finished.
Calgarians will be greeted by various trees, flowers and other plantings when they approach the library, making landscaping an important part of the sense of arrival.
STEEL AND CONCRETE STRUCTURE COMPLETE
Frame of the building is complete, including concrete columns, floors and steel supports.
EAST & WEST EXTERIOR FINISH COMPLETE
Exterior cladding on all sides of the building is complete. The outside the building will look finished except for landscaping.
INTERIOR CONSTRUCTION AND FINISHINGS START
Beginning on level 0 and upwards, the interior construction (electrical and mechanical) and finishing (drywall, millwork, paint, flooring) begins.
WOOD “UNDERBELLY” SOFFIT COMPLETE
The curved wood ‘underbelly’ soffit is installed, meeting building code and standing up to Calgary weather. A complex build.
INTERIOR CONSTRUCTION AND FINISHINGS UNDERWAY
Furnishings are selected, including all the furniture for the staff and public areas, AV equipment, computers, library shelves, the materials handling equipment, and interior and exterior signage. Flooring and shelving are installed, and over 40 meeting rooms are constructed.
INTERIOR CONSTRUCTION AND FINISHINGS COMPLETE
Interior construction and finishing is complete. System commissioning is in progress and all furniture, fixtures and equipment are selected with installation underway.
All exterior soft landscaping complete – including trees and planters surrounding the building.
MOVE-IN DAY FOR CALGARY PUBLIC LIBRARY
CPL brings in all their books, equipment, sets up operations and prepares for opening.
The day we’ve all been waiting for! What will you do first when you come to the New Central Library?
It’s not every day that you build a tunnel around an underground LRT that curves up a slope to the surface – and then use that tunnel as the foundation for a landmark library!
East Village Master Developer Calgary Municipal Land Corporation couldn’t have picked a better team of structural engineers for the job. Entuitive, a Calgary-based firm, already had experience in a job that had many parallels to the NCL encapsulation – a New York City project called Manhattan West in which 13 commuter train tracks, which carry more than a million travelers a day, were covered to create a foundation for four enormous towers.
“We applied a lot of the lessons we learned in New York to the NCL project,” says Brock Schroeder, managing director of Entuitive.
The NCL project was smaller, but still on an impressive scale – see the facts and figures that accompany this article. “There were challenges,” Schroeder says. “But we wanted to combine the LRT encapsulation with the foundation in order save money. That way, the library has more money to enhance library services.”
The encapsulation project was underway before the NCL building design was complete, so the tunnel helped inform the design. For instance, the LRT track had a quirky geometry – it didn’t rise in a continuous grade – which meant that the shape of the building had to be tweaked to fit. The contact wire above the train, which provides power, had to be lowered so that the tunnel didn’t project into the library too far: it was decided that the wires would go into support beams.
You can watch the encapsulation process on an animation at calgarymlc.ca/ncl. You’ll see the piles go in, the two walls go up, and the precast roof go on – which happened in a record two evenings so as not to disrupt service.
“There are fewer and fewer open spaces for building in cities,” says Schroeder. “You’ll see more creative solutions like this one in many cities in the future.”