CMLC Prepares to Hand Over the Keys to Calgary's New Central Library

    · 6 min read

    City of Calgary and Calgary Public Library take possession as 5-year construction program wraps up

    Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)—the organization that has managed every aspect of the New Central Library’s design and construction since the project got underway in 2013—is thrilled to announce completion of its role as lead developer of the New Central Library that now adorns East Village.

    For CMLC, this marks the conclusion of its most significant and complex project to date—a five-year construction program culminating today with the official handover of the building to the City of Calgary and Calgary Public Library to prepare for the public grand opening on November 1, 2018.

    “For five years, and amid the dynamics that have challenged our city for the past few years, CMLC and our project team have kept this complex $245-million project moving forward, both on schedule and under budget,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president & CEO. “This incredible new facility makes use of a site that sat vacant for decades because of the LRT line bisecting it, a challenge that ultimately inspired the building’s dramatic design and gives Calgarians a state-of-the-art library, and also creates a vital connection from the west boundary of downtown and City Hall into East Village and the rest of east Calgary.

    “I want to acknowledge and thank everyone involved for their dedication to the project: The City of Calgary for entrusting CMLC with the delivery of this landmark project for Calgary and for having the foresight to invest in facilities that benefit the entire community while keeping Calgary on the world stage; Calgary Public Library for working with us to ensure the design of the building dovetailed with its functional programming needs and of course for sharing our conviction that East Village is the best place for Calgary’s New Central Library; and, the entire project team for their tireless efforts in seeing this vision through to completion.”

    Providing Calgary Public Library with nearly a quarter million square feet (240,000 sq. ft.) of space—66 percent more than the existing central library that has served the city since the early 1960s—the New Central Library took shape during approximately 1.7 million construction hours, with as many as 200 workers on the site at any one time.

    In 2013, CMLC assembled the team to lead this important civic project: DIALOG (Calgary) and Snøhetta (NYC) as prime design consultants, with project management by Colliers and construction management by Stuart Olson. Among the long list of major milestones are 2014’s encapsulation of the LRT tracks—a feat of engineering enabling CMLC to build the library above an active LRT line; an intensive structural steel program that offered early glimpses into the building’s dramatic architecture; and selecting thousands upon thousands of furniture pieces with a vast variety of users in mind.

    Planning for the New Central Library began in 2004, when Calgary City Council committed $40 million to the project. In 2011, Council committed an additional $135 million from Calgary’s Community Investment Fund toward the new library. CMLC then contributed $70 million from our Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) to top up funding for the total project cost of $245 million.

    Designed to LEED Gold standard, the new library facility has 30 meeting spaces for community use free of charge, a 2,000 sq ft café, a huge children’s and teen area, a 350-seat performance hall, and 75,000 sq. ft. of outdoor gathering and seating space, among many other features.

    Bill Ptacek, CEO of Calgary Public Library, says everyone in the organization shares his excitement about the day—now fewer than 50 days away—when the New Central Library opens its doors to an eagerly awaiting public. “The task of delivering a landmark library that will serve Calgarians for generations to come was enthusiastically embraced by CMLC, who’ve been tireless in their determination to get the job done precisely as promised,” says Ptacek. “For Calgary Public Library, this media event marks the final—and most significant—milestone in the building’s construction: the official ‘hand-over’ of the building to our organization to prepare for its opening on November 1, 2018. While the project team was building here, we’ve been busying building a great library system for the City, and all of what we’ve tested and learned will be on display when we open these doors. Calgarians will be amazed when they walk through this library.”

    “Like its predecessor, which served Calgarians well for more than half a century, the New Central Library demonstrates our commitment to creating public spaces and facilities that create opportunity and are accessible to everyone,” adds Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Calgary’s public libraries served more than 6.4 million visitors last year—a number that’s been growing year over year. This has been an incredibly important and large project that CMLC has skillfully managed from start to finish (including being my five favourite words ‘on time and under budget’). The entire team and the partners who made it possible—my colleagues at The City of Calgary, Calgary Public Library and CMLC—have every right to be proud. In fact, all Calgarians can be proud of our new Central Library. Congratulations, all!”

    This landmark destination for Calgarians (and visitors from around the world) to gather, learn, read, play, be challenged, relax, hang out and connect is on schedule to open on November 1, 2018.

    To view a construction timeline, click here

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