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May 24, 2013

Vancouver Community Library

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider [enlarge]
The building’s atrium is topped by a public roof terrace.

Location: Vancouver

Architect: Miller Hull Partnership

Agency/owner: Fort Vancouver Regional Library District

General contractor: Howard S. Wright Construction, a Balfour Beatty company


This public library was designed to not only increase services but also to play a central cultural role in the community.

An atrium topped by a public roof terrace serves as the city’s “living room” and provides a visual and physical link between its five floors. On the main level, a 150-person conference space and nearby terrace provide meeting space. An interactive children’s museum-like experience and teen center provide amenities for the family-oriented community while drawing new patrons to the library.

“Heavier” program areas (collection, technology, meeting spaces) are constructed in concrete and clad with terra-cotta to reflect the civic nature of the building and the neighboring historic structures. The “lighter” atrium, as an informal gathering space and the place to circulate through the building, is built out of steel and clad in glass.

The project is LEED gold-certified.

As the role of the library evolves, it is ready to adapt when the future arrives. Large open floor areas and a raised access floor system allow for easily rearranged spaces.

Jury comment: “At 80,000 square feet, we rarely see a big, grand gesture in an interior space like we see here. The play of the word graphics painted on the concrete stairs for wayfinding is fun. The building really serves its public role with its bold presence.”


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