$55M library piques students’ interest

Halifax Central Library set to house recording studio, performance space

Final design plans for the new Halifax Central Library were revealed to the public last night. 

Model of the new Halifax Central Library set to open in 2014. Photo: Beth Hendry

About 250 people showed up at the Pier 21 immigration museum to get a 3D tour of the building, set to open in 2014. Posters with computer-generated views from all five floors inside the library surrounded a model of the building.

The building on the corner ofSpring Garden Road and Queen Street will look like a stack of clear plastic boxes. The function of each box, or floor, is laid out on the library website. The design is supposed to qualify the building for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating and includes a green roof and a rainfall harvesting system.

Despite being content with the current state of libraries on campus, some Dal students are open to trying a new study space.

Karl Fritze, a second-year English student, uses the Killam library regularly.

“It’s a great social atmosphere, you can come meet with your friends downstairs in the atrium and grab a bite to eat, but at the same time you can still go upstairs to the more secluded, quiet areas,” he said. “I commute, so this is kind of like a base of operations for me here, this is kind of the place I go to hang out in between classes.”

Fritze is tentatively open to the new library.

“I’d definitely check it out, but I’m not sure it would necessarily replace the Killam.”

Other students, includingfirst-year masters of computer science student Varinder Singh, value the quieter floors of the building.

He said he likes the upper levels of the Killam, “but not the ground floor because the people normally just gossip and they come here to use the computers.”

Singh said he prefers working in the computer science building because there are usually just five or six people studying there.

Unlike Fritze, who commutes, a downtown library would be convenient for Singh, who lives on Spring Garden Road.

“It will take like one minute to go there from my home,” he said of the Halifax Central Library.

The new library aims to appeal to people looking for both a communal experience and an individual one.

“The whole idea and concept behind the building is to create a central hub so it’s not only a traditional library,” said Morten Schmidt, architect from the Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen architects, that partnered with Fowler, Bauld & Mitchell, the local firm that was selected to take on the project.

The public got a look at floor plans for the Halifax Central Library. Photo: Beth Hendry

“We paid very much attention to the relationship between the architecture school and the new library,” said Schmidt. The space between the Sexton campus and the library is to be parking space, for now. 

“The idea is that space will eventually be used for projects or whatever the school can come up with,” he said.

The new library will replace the Spring Garden library, built in 1951 as a library and memorial to First and Second World War casualties. The $55-million price tag will be divvied up between municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

Public libraries in the city are not known for their popularity with students but Judith Hare, CEO of Halifax Public Libraries, made a case for the connection.

“We actually have a reciprocal agreement with all the universities that you can return your book from the public library at the university or vice versa,” she said.

Hare pointed out that the new library will have Wi-Fi and space with plenty of outlets to study with a laptop or tablet.

There’s only one condition: “You need to have a library card and library cards are free.”