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Diamond Schmitt Architects’ library expertise


Four libraries designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects are featured among the best in Library Design Showcase 2012. Presented by the American Library Association, Library Design Showcase annually celebrates the best in new and newly renovated libraries in North America.

“Libraries that are included are beautiful examples of architecture that address service needs in innovative and effective ways,” says Greg Landgraf, associate editor of the ALA’s American Libraries magazine.

The Reuse and Restoration category cites Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. Diamond Schmitt completed a multi-year renovation of Canada’s largest library in 2011. In creating a strong new identity and focus for the facility the architects opened up corridors and stacks to bring daylight deeper into the core, improved study space, data infrastructure, way-finding and transformed two exterior porticos into spacious entry halls.

In the Collaborative Learning category, Centennial College Library and Academic Facility in Toronto is recognized for being responsive to new and adaptive ways of learning. Centennial’s library provides study, research and collaborative work spaces with an array of technologies available, including workstations, media viewing carrels for small groups, technology studios that match the presentation capabilities of classrooms, video conferencing and wireless network access throughout.

For Service Flexibility, the ALA noted the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law at Allard Hall in Vancouver. Flexible learning and study spaces are configured around a central forum which itself doubles as a lecture hall or moot court. “The Law Faculty wants this building to engage students and faculty and to demonstrate that Law no longer practices in isolation from other disciplines”, says Donald Schmitt, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The design reflects this by creating an open and inviting environment for both formal and informal learning.”

The Centennial College library and UBC Law are also included in the Green Facilities category. They are both LEED Gold candidate facilities and contain extensive energy saving and sustainable design features.

For The Shape of Things category, the ALA singled out the Brown Family House of Learning at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. A sweeping glazed arc facade forms a luminous lantern shaped to the curves of the landscape that is transparent, welcoming and accessible. Design elements throughout the building are inspired by First Nations dwellings and crafts and include an in-the-round lecture theatre based upon the traditional Kekuli or ‘pithouse’ constructed as the winter home of the nomadic Secwepemc people.

The showcase, now in its 24th year, is published online from March 9-14 at americanlibrariesmagazine.org/librarydesign12 and in the April edition of American Libraries.

Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) works with universities, healthcare institutions, government and private clients and has completed – in addition to public and academic libraries – significant master plans, medical and research facilities, theatres, academic buildings, residential and commercial projects. Current commissions include the New Mariinsky opera house in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Sick Children’s Hospital Research Tower in Toronto and the Global Innovation Exchange Building at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.


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