After it was first envisioned nearly three decades ago, the original, complete design of Vancouver Public Library’s (VPL) landmark Central Branch in downtown Vancouver will be open to the public starting this weekend.
VPL’s upper two floors – spanning 58,800-sq-ft on the eighth and ninth levels – significantly expands the Central Branch’s library and community spaces in both indoor and outdoor environments.
It is the largest change to the library building since it opened in 1995.
Earlier today, media were provided with a preview of the space while construction crews were still in the process of completing finishing touches. Ahead of the grand opening at 10 am on Saturday, library staff will move furniture into the new space.
The new 42,000-sq-ft indoor space provides the library with the Pat Graham Reading Room, which is the library’s first quiet reading room, accommodating up to 60 people.
There is also an 80-seat fixed configuration theatre, named after the Montalbano Family, for author readings, documentary film screenings, lectures, and performances.
A new dedicated exhibit and gallery space will display morph, the expansion space’s first exhibition, featuring an interactive exploration of change.
Additionally, a number of bookable meeting rooms, varying in capacity between 15 and 90 people, with exterior glass walls will be suitable for meetings and events.
While there is no cafe within this rooftop space, the RBC Snack Lounge offers the public with an eating area where they can either bring their own food or purchase from vending machines that offer snacks and light meals, including salads.
But the expansion’s most spectacular addition is its outdoor spaces, designed by local landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who designed the Central Branch’s original green roof.
The Phillips Hager and North Garden are about 7,400-sq-ft, where people can read a book, do work, or find a quiet retreat from the busy city below. This is in addition to two outdoor terraces on level eight – the north and south terrace, approximately 4,700-sq-ft each.
City views, including the roof of BC Place Stadium, can be enjoyed from these outdoor public spaces.
The retrofits to the top two floors cost $15.5 million, funded by a $9-million contribution from the City of Vancouver and the remainder from the Vancouver Public Library Foundation.
In 2015, the provincial government vacated its upper floor space within the building, making the expansion possible. It has increased the library’s footprint to cover the entirety of the 398,000-sq-ft floor area of the coliseum-inspired building.
The federal government continues to lease the Central Branch’s office tower on the northeast corner of the Library Square city block, which was designed by world-renowned Safdie Architects.
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