Project Images
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.

© 2014 - The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP
renderings: Miller Hull