Drummondville Public Library

Originating from an architectural competition, the Drummondville Library, by Chevalier Morales in consortium with DMA architects, transposes the historical, cultural and poetic essence of the region into a studied urban and architectural composition.

Photo credit: Adrien Williams

The architects desired to work with the entire site by considering the library building as a civic facility part of a large integrated civic complex within a park.

The main objective was to use this project as a catalyst to reverse the growing isolation the site was facing as it was becoming cut off from Lindsay Street, the main commercial and human-scale avenue of the city.

To address this problem, they engaged a dialogue between the other project on the site: the skating rink, as well as the various components of the library.

Physically, the project positions itself on the site in relation to the power line, positioning itself on either side of the easement. Using the axis of the power line as a mirror, the main library building sits along the easement line to the east, linked to Des Forges Street, while the skating rink and its accessory building are on the west side.

By locating most of the parking to the south alongside the big box retailers, all the project’s components fall into their appropriate place.

This organizational structure of the site both grounds the library and allows the municipality to gradually increase programming to reflect the seasons.

While developing the project, the architects were also attentive to the lighting of the site, including elements such as an electric meadow in the Jardin des Voltigeurs, a series of light points along the power line and the walkway, and by installing illuminated soffits under the building’s overhang. This electrical park is a tribute to one of the important aspects of Drummondville’s history: electricity.

The layout of the library and other programming elements, such as the Drummondville Historic Society and the Arts and Culture and Immigration Department is untraditional.

From the outset the architects decided that people should be able to enter the site freely, which prompted the decision to place a café at its centre.

An entrance opening onto the parking lot and another opening onto the park on the Des Forges Street side, which can be reached through the linear walkway and the Jardin des Voltigeurs, were created alongside the required secondary entrances.

The building can remain open outside library hours by closing the entrance opening onto Des Forges Street, sealing off the north staircase and closing technical services to the south.

Located in the center of the library near the main staircase, this multifunctional room is equipped with a stage that opens onto the inner courtyard, and accommodates a hundred people with complete scenographic and multimedia equipment for performances, training, and municipal events.

At the center of the space unfolds the grand sculptural staircase composed of two off-centered helical stairs, opening several vantage points onto the library, the exhibition areas and the garden adjacent to the periodical reading room.

The two gardens remain present on the second floor and help define the level’s two main areas: fiction and non-fiction for adults, the latter also leading to the terrace located to the south. Between these two areas on the south side is an electronic library and an area for teens.

The architects created a high-performance envelope in terms of sustainable development while ensuring certain uniformity. Translucent glass panels cover a stainless-steel envelope, ceramic glass panels control solar gain and transparent panels offer directed views of the site and provide natural light.

Physical traces of Drummondville were embedded within the thickness of the envelope from the iron slag; the blue-tinted residue is a reminder of the first heavy industry in Drummondville.

A heat exchange system between the rink and the library optimizes the financial, energy and environmental resources of the community.

These two complementary uses, which require opposing hot and cold requirements, allow loop energy transfer for nearly six months of the year, reducing the scale of energy systems and energy demands, according to the architects.

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