The Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be a landmark destination built on the shared values and passions of the partner institutions: knowledge, history, discovery, culture, creativity, collaboration, and connections.
This innovative collaboration between a public library and the national library and archives will offer an enriched experience for customers and visitors, bringing together diverse collections, providing exhibition and event spaces, and free and open access to millions of documents and the rich Canadian documentary heritage.
It will be built to a minimum of LEED Gold certification and be accessible by LRT and multi-use pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.
Once the proposed design has been approved jointly by the National Capital Commission’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design, and Realty (ACPDR) and the City’s Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) as well as the project’s Executive Steering Committee, the architects and design team will begin work on the construction documents. Ground breaking is scheduled in 2021, after a thorough process to select a construction firm.
The facility’s name will also be selected before constructions begins. It will meet criteria set by the City of Ottawa and the Government of Canada for such buildings.
As indicated above, the facility is set to open to the public in late 2024. In the coming years, the project team will continue to consult with Ottawa residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast on the type of experiences, programs, collections and activities that they want to see in the new facility.
About the partnership
In 2017, City Council and the Ottawa Public Library Board approved collaborating with Library and Archives Canada to build the new joint facility. Ownership will be split, with the City owning 61 per cent of the facility and Library and Archives Canada owning 39 per cent.
The governance agreement between the City, Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada will guide the project, cost-sharing, decision-making and dispute resolution.
About the design team
Diamond Schmitt Architects is a world-renowned Canadian architecture firm established in 1975, with offices in Toronto, Vancouver and New York. KWC Architects is an Ottawa-based firm established in 1978 that has collaborated with Diamond Schmitt Architects on 12 projects in the last 20 years.
Both firms have won multiple awards, including Governor General Awards, OAA Awards of Excellence, American Library Association, and Ontario Library Association Award of Excellence. The consortium has a proven track record in architectural design excellence and specialized experience with libraries and other cultural institutions.
Council approved the site for the joint facility, which will be located at 555 Albert Street (formerly 557 Wellington Street), on February 7, 2017. The site allows for beautiful landscaping surrounding the facility, which will expand the library and archives experience outside of the building. The site also allows use of multiple access methods – bicycle, walking, LRT, and car – and offers unparalleled green vistas that will be enjoyed by all users and visitors.
The Council-approved estimated budget envelope for the Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility is $193 million, which includes the municipal, federal and parking components of the project.
- The total project budget, including parking, is $192.9 million.
- The cost of the joint facility, excluding parking, is $174.8 million.
- The City’s share of the cost is $104.2 million, with $1 million coming from Ottawa Public Library reserves, $3.2 million from Ottawa Public Library development charges, $20 million from land sales and $80 million in debt.
- The $18.1-million garage will be cost-neutral based on estimated revenue.
- LAC’s share in the cost of design and construction is $70.6 million.
Ottawa Public Library
Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is the largest bilingual (English/French) public library system in North America. The OPL extends public access to information and services through the library’s 34 branches, physical and virtual (BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca), as well as two mobile libraries and a vending machine-style lending library service. Serving close to one million Ottawa residents, OPL’s mission is to inspire learning, spark curiosity, and connect people
Library and Archives Canada
As the custodian of our distant past and recent history, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.