Powell River, British Columbia
Powell River Library
Given a mandate by the client to maintain the design on one level, the team nestled the library into the 26-foot change in
elevation between the street corner and the park level at the location of a former community-built ice rink. Earth-sheltered on
two sides, the building reuses existing retaining walls and building pad from the previous structure. To transition from the
street elevation down to the building entry, tiered grass and concrete steps create an informal amphitheater or outdoor seating area.
The steel beams and exposed concrete recall the industrial language of the historic paper mill town and create a floor plan that is
open and regular with no column obstructions. This free span allows the library to be flexible and adaptable throughout the lifetime of the building.
By twisting the structural bays from a traditional sawtooth along the eastern edge to a flat overhang along the western edge, the building
responds to each orientation in a unique and optimum way. The deformation provides north facing clerestories to bring in soft natural
light to the reading room, while the large overhang mitigates direct sun to the western facade. This allows for full transparency
along the western face of the building and takes advantage of the site’s magnificent views.
Large operable walls allow the exterior spaces under the western overhang to become an extension of the reading room and the
interface between the park and the library. A single interior courtyard provides natural light and an intimate scale to the
Children’s Collection area as well as a sheltered outdoor space for library programming.