Recently, the new Halifax Central Library has garnered some international attention. Azure Magazine listed it as one of the top 10 projects they are watching this year, and CNN included it in a list of 10 eye-popping buildings. The world is interested. What about Haligonians?
I had the opportunity to join a media tour on May 2. The interior space is now well defined and can be clearly delineated. Finishes and cabinetry are beginning to be installed and the end of construction is nearly upon us. It’s clear that lots of thought has been put into the building’s functional program, and the desire that it be much more than a warehouse for books is evident. Libraries have traditionally severed as storehouses for knowledge; books used to be expensive, and so it made sense to communally purchase and make them available. Today, information and its dissemination is cheap, but the tools to create are a limiting factor. To that end, it’s more than appropriate that the new facility offer features like a recording studio and production space. Hopefully, a laser cutter and 3D printer can be added.
The building itself is spacious and most of the interior divisions will be glass partitions, maintaining a light and airy feel. The spaces are arranged around the central atrium. Its already famous Hogwarts-like staircases are very functional to use. The top of the building offers a green roof, outdoor terrace, cafe and the Halifax Living Room (projecting out over Spring Garden Road). This is an impressive space, with floor to ceiling windows and a view to the Citadel and the south end. The Paul O’Regan Hall offers a flexible performance and presentation space, thanks to removable seating.
So, is the library worthy of all the attention it’s getting? I think so. This building and its program are forward thinking, and even a bit bold.