The New Central Library – Calgary, Alberta - Atlas Obscura

The New Central Library

The New Central Library is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture in the midst of downtown Calgary.  


With its towering glass walls and slanting wooden arches, Calgary’s glittering New Central Library is a gem of modern architecture.

Designed to encapsulate a portion of Calgary’s light rail transit tracks, the New Central Library was an ambitious project. Not only were the architects expected to propose a unique, eye-catching design that would become the centerpiece of Calgary’s East Village, but they also had to incorporate 135 meters of transit tracks into the foundation of the building.

The architectural firms Snøhetta and DIALOG rose to the challenge, though, creating a contemporary masterpiece of architecture that has been hailed by Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, as “a new icon for the city.” Designed as an homage to the curved cloud formations of Alberta’s Chinook winds, an elongated wooden arch rises above the entrance to the building. The elegant aesthetic of the wooden paneling extends inside the building, with the doors opening up into an expansive atrium lined by curving wooden balconies. 

Although it certainly draws the eye, the collage-like exterior of the building also serves a practical function, allowing for different levels of privacy in the building’s various spaces. Glass paneling alternates with solid facades, leaving public areas visible to the streets below while quiet study areas remain private. For book lovers and architecture buffs alike, the New Central Library is an excellent place to while away an afternoon in Calgary. 

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December 18, 2018

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