Capilano Library

Architect: Patkau Architects
Architect of Record: Group2

Consultants
Structural: Fast + Epp
Mechanical: Williams Engineering
Electrical: WSP
Civil: ISL
Acoustic: RWDI
Traffic: Bunt & Associates
Building Envelope: RJC
Landscape Architect: Design North
Cost Estimate: Acumen
Builder: PCL Constructors

Images
James Dow + Patkau Architects (1-12)
Patkau Architects + 2020 Google (13)
Patkau Architects (14, 15)

Location

Size

Client

Awards

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1,100 sq m / 11,800 sq ft

Edmonton Public Library

2022 Prairie Design Excellence Award
2020 AIA/ALA Library Building Award
2019 North America Wood Design Merit Award

Description

Sited at the edge of a ravine, the Capilano Library connects its suburban
community to nature. Orphaned from the North Saskatchewan River by intense
urbanization in the 1960s, the ravine is a remnant of a riparian prairie ecosystem
that once characterized the Edmonton area. Flanked by a residential street to the
west and the orphaned ravine to the east, the site is ideal for a library, both
accessible and connected to nature.

The library form is developed from its cross section, which is folded to form three
peaks across the site, each with a different scale. Each of the three peaks
responds to scale, function, natural light, and view. The western peak reflects the
scale of the neighbourhood with a quiet edge of support spaces along the street.
The eastern peak is intimately scaled, with varied seating along a serene 55-
metre long window overlooking the ravine. The middle peak is top-lit and lofty,
with space for stacks, community, and staff. To complement the shady deciduous
backdrop, the library is clad in black aluminum and natural wood, while a double-
row of elms and entry plaza tie the building to the adjacent street.

This cross section is extruded 77 metres along the length of the site and
modulated to create rich and varied spaces for the 1,130 square metre library
program. The upper and lower planes of the roof are optimized for daylight,
acoustics, structure, and technical services, striking an irregular profile at each
end of the building.

Wood-screened clerestories on the west face of the library fill the interior with
daylight. As the sun passes over the building, sunlight filters through the screens,
projecting gentle patterns of light and shadow on the interior surfaces. Views of
the verdant landscape combined with continually changing interior light create a
natural oasis in the heart of a suburban prairie neighbourhood.

The Capilano Library makes a strong argument for restoring the orphaned ravine
to its larger riparian ecosystem, becoming a catalyst for a city-scale change. By
acknowledging the ravine, the library provides visitors and staff with a place of
reverence for knowledge and nature while creating a tranquil edge to its
community.

Sited at the edge of a ravine, the Capilano Library connects its suburban
community to nature. Orphaned from the North Saskatchewan River by intense
urbanization in the 1960s, the ravine is a remnant of a riparian prairie ecosystem
that once characterized the Edmonton area. Flanked by a residential street to the
west and the orphaned ravine to the east, the site is ideal for a library, both
accessible and connected to nature.

The library form is developed from its cross section, which is folded to form three
peaks across the site, each with a different scale. Each of the three peaks
responds to scale, function, natural light, and view. The western peak reflects the
scale of the neighbourhood with a quiet edge of support spaces along the street.
The eastern peak is intimately scaled, with varied seating along a serene 55-
metre long window overlooking the ravine. The middle peak is top-lit and lofty,
with space for stacks, community, and staff. To complement the shady deciduous
backdrop, the library is clad in black aluminum and natural wood, while a double-
row of elms and entry plaza tie the building to the adjacent street.

This cross section is extruded 77 metres along the length of the site and
modulated to create rich and varied spaces for the 1,130 square metre library
program. The upper and lower planes of the roof are optimized for daylight,
acoustics, structure, and technical services, striking an irregular profile at each
end of the building.

Wood-screened clerestories on the west face of the library fill the interior with
daylight. As the sun passes over the building, sunlight filters through the screens,
projecting gentle patterns of light and shadow on the interior surfaces. Views of
the verdant landscape combined with continually changing interior light create a
natural oasis in the heart of a suburban prairie neighbourhood.

The Capilano Library makes a strong argument for restoring the orphaned ravine
to its larger riparian ecosystem, becoming a catalyst for a city-scale change. By
acknowledging the ravine, the library provides visitors and staff with a place of
reverence for knowledge and nature while creating a tranquil edge to its
community.