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. 


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 will remain for approximately 18 months; the second installation goes up in 2016 and 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.


In July 2014, CMLC issued a Request for Qualifications inviting all locally, nationally and internationally qualified artists to apply. Working with a budget of approximately $2 million, the successful artist or artist team will work with CMLC and the design team of Snøhetta and DIALOG to determine the best location for public art within the library complex. The RFQ received an astonishing 217 proposals from places as far away as New Zealand. Our volunteer selection committee reviewed submissions and short-listed six artists and a final selection will be announced in 2017. The selection committee includes members of Calgary Arts Development, Calgary Public Library, Alberta College of Art and Design, East Village Inglewood community representative, and Glenbow Museum. Non-voting members include CMLC, City of Calgary Public Art Department and DIALOG.