The design and function of modern libraries are keeping up with our changing times and needs. Once libraries, post offices, banks and city halls had their standard recognizable designs. The older library buildings were somber, solid and stern, much like the librarian of that day.
In the eastern potion of the Vancouver Central Business District stands the nine-story-high Vancouver Public Library. It is difficult to miss with its work of art appearance, which mimics the look of a Roman coliseum. The core of the building is a nine story rectangular box, which houses floor-after floor of book stacks interconnected with escalators. Throughout, there are pieces of art, wonderful displays and service desks. This is all surrounded by a free-standing elliptical colonnaded wall featuring well-lit reading and study areas. The library's internal glass facade overlooks an enclosed concourse formed by a second elliptical wall. This high glass-roofed concourse serves as an airy entry foyer to the library and houses a row of small businesses, coffee shops and eateries. On the top of the complex is a football-field-sized sea grass roof.
Throughout the building are fields of computers; most reference materials are now available on-line. Archives that were once stored and difficult to access are now available at a keystroke. Although this library is inviting, I still prefer accessing it from my home.
Kitty-corner from the library is a city-block-sized parking lot that once housed the downtown bus depot. The parking lot has been tentatively approved as the site of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. The stage has been set for them with the beautiful coliseum architecture of the Library. How do they match or beat this building? Perhaps with a structure inspired by the Eiffel tower or the pyramid of Cheops?