Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada – Joint Facility

“With the reveal of the design for this new world-class destination in our downtown, Ottawa is one step closer to achieving our vision to be the most liveable mid-sized city in North America. I would like to thank everyone involved in this process for their input and for their commitment to helping us create a facility that is more than just a building – it will be a welcoming gathering space that will connect all of us together.”

Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

The new facility for Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC)—a joint hub of information—is set to open in 2024. In a data-driven world, where knowledge is value, Canada’s capital is offering access. The project is the result of an innovative partnership between OPL and LAC in pursuit of connections. An ambitious task, it links municipal and federal institutions, the National Capital and the rest of Canada, public institutions and their constituents, architects, and the end-users of the building, past and the future, and fundamentally, explores the connection between knowledge and a place.

The two partners, over the years, have offered Canadians more than just books and artifacts on shelves. Guardians of knowledge and culture, these organizations cultivate people’s joy of reading, learning, discovering, and creating. To shape their new joint facility in Ottawa, since 2013, they have invited residents and communities to take part in a public co-design process. As a result, the architecture stems from a robust and meaningful civic engagement with residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from coast to coast, leveraging their input to generate an iconic destination. We have designed a facility that is for the people and by the people, depicting the city’s history and natural beauty. The building’s shape is reminiscent of the Ottawa River; its stone and wood exterior reflect the escarpment and surrounding greenspace, and the unparalleled views of the city are on display through windows and transparent walls.

This public-facing civic institution will be welcoming and informative, a one-stop-shop for OPL resources and the national treasures of LAC, including 425,000 works of art, 22 million books, and 3 million photographs. Aside from offering this vast collection, the building will include a sky-lit Town Hall gathering space, a multi-purpose auditorium, Discovery Centre for children, Genealogy Centre, Creative Centre, Design Studio, Digital Production Centre, collaboration labs, maker spaces, reading rooms, meeting rooms, and cafés. More importantly, as an inclusive public institution, it will include spaces informed by—and programmed for—Indigenous communities. The facility also features an outdoor plaza, terraces, and a Civic Reception Room on the top floor. It contains cultural and historical stories of Canadians, sharing them through public programs, events, resources, and exhibitions.

Targeting Net-Zero Carbon and LEED Gold certification, the building will employ climate-resilient strategies and offer access by light-rail and multi-use pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. Expected to receive over a million visitors annually, this new hub responds to rapidly developing technology, growing expectations, and changing demographics. Its innovative spaces and programming will be an essential part of Ottawa’s growth as a smart city, contributing to the social and economic well-being of the local and national communities.

Client The City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Library, Library and Archives Canada
Completion 2024
Sustainability LEED Gold Target, Net Zero Target

In joint venture with KWC Architects
Renderings Cicada Design

Team See full project team
Laila Abdalla
Nahid Ahmadi
Erin Broda
Sydney Browne
Steve Culver
Jeff Geldart
Emre Goktay
Elizabeth Gyde
Bennet Hu
Mahdie Irannejad
Liheng Li
Catherine Lin
Sarah Low
Gary McCluskie
Donald Schmitt
Philippa Swartz
Peggy Theodore
Jose Trinidad
Matthew Tsui
Coco Xiong
Liuyi (Louis) Yan
Joseph Yau
Haley Zhou