Kitchener Public Library reimagined as a town square

Once considered simply a place to return books on time, today’s library may now play host to activities for star gazers, Minecraft players, aspiring tech talent, fashion designers, writers, yoga practitioners, and music lovers. That’s just part of what Kitchener Public Library enthusiasts now enjoy, thanks to the award winning sweeping $46-million redesign and renovation by LGA Architectural Partners and Maystar General Contractors.

A welcoming new space, including an open, sunlit two-storey area that can double as reading room and concert hall, and cozy nesting places for young readers in the stacks, creates a community meeting place and home away from home; a renewed role for the public library of today.

LGA Partner Janna Levitt says, “We aimed to honour this beloved mid-century building while bringing it into the 21st century. We kept important historic pieces such as the main mural, which was created through the first Canada Council grant; the long tables, integrating them into a contemporary café; the excellent local craftsmanship of the original railings; and the children’s mural, which illustrates the actual flora, fauna and insects of the land underneath. We wanted to create a vibrant living room for the community.”

Transforming the original 1962 Carl Reider library into a modern hub with an additional 30,000 square feet, while preserving its historic charm, came with some obstacles.

“Blending the old with the new, and maintaining the exterior features was a challenge, but fortunately we’re experienced in this work,” said Maystar president Joe Maio. “We also needed to keep the library open the whole time, working in phases, using hoarding screens. Regular meetings with library staff and continual communication helped us ensure neither the public nor staff was compromised. This library is the central point for all of Kitchener’s library computer systems, and we were pleased to be able to effect a smooth transition. Happily, the library was completed in spring 2015, with no major construction issues.”

Maio adds, “The library was beautifully designed; it’s nice and bright and looks great. People enjoy it; it’s always busy, and we’re proud to be a part of that success.”

 

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