Design team chosen for new Central Library near LeBreton Flats

The Kipnes Lantern is part of the rejuvenated National Arts Centre building designed by Toronto architects, Diamond Schmitt.

The Toronto architectural firm Diamond Schmitt seems to be at the centre of the changing face of downtown Ottawa.

First it gussied up the Government Conference Centre. Then the firm transformed the Elgin Street entrance to the National Arts Centre with a glittering glass $110 million glittering glass addition and rejuvenation of the original 1969 brutalist building.

Now it has been awarded the contract to design the facility, along with KWC Architects, of Ottawa, that will hold the new main branch of the Ottawa Public Library and the National Library and Archives on a prominent piece of land overlooking the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.

Subject to final approvals, the design process is expected to begin next year.

Ottawa City Council and the Ottawa Public Library Board approved the plan to work with Library and Archives Canada in 2017 with an eye to building facility that could serve as a national institution, a city-wide resource and a community gathering space, the city said in a release on its website.

The total project budget, including parking, is $192.9 million. The city will pay about $104 million along with another $18 million for a new underground parking facility. Library and Archives will chip in about $70 million. The sale of the old main branch is expected to raise about $20 million.

The facility site is at the corner of Albert and Commissioner streets at the southeastern edge of LeBreton Flats, close to the Confederation Line’s Pimisi Station. It has a new address which is 555 Albert St. (formerly 557 Wellington St.), the city said.

The facility is expected to open in 2024.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.