While there are many separate parts of and areas within the New Central Library, it has been conceived and designed to work as an integrated whole. That means you’ll find your way around easily, locate the equipment, programs and people you want, and enjoy the use of flexible spaces that accommodate your needs now, and will function sustainably for generations to come. Every detail has been considered, from the fabric on chairs to the doorhandles on meeting rooms. 

That also means that light and temperature is controlled to both protect the collections and provide lots of natural light for reading and working. It means that the quality of the environment is monitored for both efficiency and comfort. It means that operational systems are as intelligent and as future proof as technologically possible.  

All those elements facilitate many different kinds of experience, from co-working with friends on a neighbourhood improvement project to attending a performance, joining a kids’ play group or studying quietly.


Great design responds to its site, and nowhere is this more true than in the architecture of the New Central Library. The half-moon shaped site, just east of City Hall in East Village, was a challenge for the architectural teams. They rose to the occasion by designing a spectacular building that looks like a graceful ship sailing into the future. With its geometric exterior cladding inspired by chinook arches and vast open interior spaces, it’s a library that will serve Calgarians for a century or more.


October 7, 2014

Watch this striking 3-D animation of a completed New Central Library. You'll see the striking exterior and interior architecture as never before and watch Calgarians exploring their inspiring new city landmark.

Every material chosen for the library has a specific function that goes far beyond its looks - although the aesthetic is extremely important as well! Natural wood adds warmth to floors, wooden ceiling slats add dimension to ceilings, polished concrete is sharp and modern, metal mesh hides infrastructure and allows light to pass through… The materials chosen are many and endlessly varied, and all contribute to the sustainability, energy saving, and constraints of our unique climate.

Here are a few materials you’ll see in the NCL:

  • Ceramic Tile The form of the hexagonal tiles on the floor and walls of the bathroom cleverly recall the shapes of the library’s outdoor walls. Coloured tiles will indicate your location within the library.
  • Low Iron Glazing with 40% of the NCL in glass, low-iron content glass allows for clear views and a natural appearance. The glass is triple glazed to reduce heat loss and solar gain throughout the year.
  • Wood Slat The theatre and atrium will have walls and ceilings connected with wood slats, giving the appearance of one continuous material. The entry gateway also has a wood clad surface. 


After books have been read, research has been done and community meetings have finished, library users will need a place to re-fuel. Enter LUKES, the New Central Library's food and beverage operator. Bringing this café space to life is a dynamic local partnership of Gareth Lukes and Eric Hendry. The duo's respective award-winning businesses and collective excellence in food and beverage offer a fresh approach that will create a unique and memorable experience for library visitors and staff.

Gareth Lukes, third generation owner of the wildly successful Lukes Drug Mart and Eric Hendry, local Chef superstar behind restaurants such as Model Milk and now Bar Von Der Fels bring a collaborative vision that is rooted in community; simple, local food for a diverse spectrum of guests, including children; and creates a destination within the library. LUKES' quality food offerings at affordable prices will fuel discussion and stimulate learning, elevating the library visitor experience.

LUKES café will operate in the New Central Library on Level 0 and on Level 1. To help establish the NCL café as a destination both within the library and beyond, local architectural firm FRANK Architecture will design the space.

Gareth Lukes, Partner

As a third generation owner of Lukes Drug Mart, Gareth has been working in retail pharmacy full-time for the last 15 years. Lukes Drug Mart is one of the few independent pharmacies in the country whose sales per square foot exceed those of national chains. In 2015, Gareth received the recognition of Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine. He has also served as President and Vice-President for the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association. During his time there, he served on both St. Patrick’s Island advisory boards. Over the years the store has received a significant amount of press. Gareth has appeared on the cover of Swerve and FFWD Magazine. The store has also been featured on: Global TV, CBC TV, City TV, the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun, CBC Radio, Exclaim!, the National Post, Enroute Magazine, the Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight, and Alberta Venture.

Eric Hendry, Partner & Chef

Eric’s career as a Chef began in 2001 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, BC. Since his graduation he has garnered experience in many important food cities around the globe including New York, Hong Kong and Melbourne. Since returning to Calgary in 2013, he headed the kitchen at Model Milk, often viewed of as one of the top culinary spots in Canada. Since his departure at Model Milk, in 2017, Eric has partnered with Bar Von Der Fels. Since his arrival at BVDF it has been regarded as a “small but mighty dining experience” according to the Globe & Mail and a contender for Enroute Magazine’s ‘Best New Restaurants Canada 2017’. Gareth Lukes and Eric also teamed up in 2017 to launch a small batch, all natural soft serve ice cream project at Lukes Drug Mart.

Temporary Art

Public art is part of the ‘software’ of East Village – it helps give the neighbourhood its look, feel and character. For the New Central Library, 1% of the project budget has been allocated to two important public art initiatives managed under CMLC’s robust Art in the Public Realm program for East Village. To inspire visitors even before the new library opens its doors, CMLC has commissioned local artists to create temporary installations for the construction fencing along 3rd Street SE between 7th and 9th avenues. The first, by local artist Serena Malyon, went up in October 2014 and lived around the perimeter of NCL for 18 months. The second artwork, created by local artist collective Light & Soul, was installed in 2016 and will remain for approximately 28 months. The second dimension of Art in the Public Realm for the NCL involves the creation of permanent public art to beautify, enliven and activate various spaces within the new library complex.


Permanent Public Art

In July 2014, CMLC issued a Request for Qualifications inviting all locally, nationally and internationally qualified artists to apply. Through a robust and multi-staged selection process which was informed by the City of Calgary’s Public Art Program, the responses CMLC received—239 in total—were first narrowed to a list of 35. The task of establishing a shortlist to then advance to a Request for Proposals (RFP) stage was guided by a Volunteer Art Committee comprising a community resident, an artist and representative from ACAD, a curator from Glenbow Museum, a rep from Calgary Public Library and a rep from Calgary Arts Development organization. Non-voting members/observers included reps from CMLC, City of Calgary Public Art Program and the NCL design team.

The five finalists—all of whom have national/international careers, work in a variety of media and have experience with public art projects and museum and gallery work—went through a detailed orientation with members of the NCL project team, various representatives from Calgary Public Library, a local historian and the design team to ensure a thorough understanding of the NCL vision, site and building design. Each artist then developed and presented their concepts to the committee.

In April 2015, in consultation with non-voting members, the committee selected Christian Moeller for his proposal to create an iconic outdoor three-piece sculpture suite and an interior installation for the New Central Library. His colourful, captivating concepts bring a playfulness to the library experience–a delightful sense of arrival and wonder for all visitors to enjoy, especially children.

Christian's exterior three-piece sculpture— “TRIO”—will be installed on the library’s east and west outdoor plaza spaces. Each piece measure nine to 10 metres tall and moves like a pendulum to create a visual choreography.

His interior installation— “FISH”—is a book wall that employs nearly 11,000 books whose spines, in 12 different colours, create the image of a fish. This work of art measures approximately three metres (10 feet) tall by 14 m (45 ft) wide and it will be located on the third floor of the library.