Photo: Edmonton Public Library

Top Projects 2015: Mill Woods Library, Seniors and Multicultural Facility

Institutional—Under $50 Million (TIE)

Libraries aren’t just about books. They’re vital community centres that provide much-needed public space for people of all ages and backgrounds. People go there to read and study, but also to hold meetings, listen to guest speakers and participate in a variety of support programs.

The new Mill Woods Library, Seniors and Multicultural Facility will help fulfill all of these functions and more. As the second-most-visited branch in the city, the 25,000-square-foot library on the main floor offers rooms for studying and community programming, over 45 public computer stations, a mini makerspace, a fireplace and a children’s area that features an outdoor garden. On the second floor, 25,000 square feet has been given over to community spaces, including a multi-purpose room, a games room, an arts and crafts area, and a commercial kitchen.

With 60 per cent of the exterior made of glass, the building offers a great deal of natural light for patrons, and operable windows and louvers will provide natural ventilation during Edmonton’s warmer months. The open feel of the building also helps set off the structure from its suburban surroundings by allowing passers-by a clear view of the facility’s interior.

As library services continue to evolve, so too will the building’s interior, thanks to an open, flexible layout that was designed to meet unexpected demands. An access floor system was crucial to meeting this goal. Beyond providing ventilation and heating and cooling, the floor offers an easily accessible and cost-effective pathway for all of the building’s plumbing, power and information technology systems.

Virtual construction technology and building information modelling played a large part in the project’s development, particularly when it came to handling one of the facility’s most striking visual elements—the complex architectural ceiling above the library space. Featuring hundreds of raised points and defined by its diverging lines, the ceiling posed numerous coordination challenges that had to be addressed through 3-D technology.

Targeted to LEED Silver, the project has a rooftop hydronic solar collector and uses solar power to preheat the building’s water supply. As well, despite the varying requirements between the two floors, the entire building uses a single central plant that includes high-efficiency condensing boilers and an energy recovery ventilation unit.

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