Winnipeg Architecture Foundation



Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Address:25 Chancellors Circle
Original Use:Library
Constructed:1951 - 1952
Other Work:1978, Green Blankstein Russell
2008, Corbett Cibinel Architects,Renovations to the Archives & Special Collections, located on the third floor of the library.
Architects:Green Blankstein Russell
Firms:Green Blankstein Russell
Tours:Part of the QR Code Tour

More Information

The Elizabeth Dafoe Library (named in memory of Elizabeth Dafoe, the Chief Librarian of the University 1937-1960), also known as the Main Library, marked a significant break from earlier campus planning with traditional collegiate style buildings. The design of the library set forth the Modernist movement on the Fort Garry Campus. The floor-to-ceiling walls of glass highlighted advancements made in new glazing systems and it was the first building on campus to reveal internal functions through an exterior form. The interior space provided an easy route between the large entrance, exhibition space and reading rooms. A large mural by William McCloy was designed for the open entrance space. Although breaking from the traditional design of campus buildings, limestone was used on the exterior of the building to maintain a link to the surrounding context.

Since the initial construction, the library has undergone a number of additions and renovations that have significantly altered the circulation and quality of the interior spaces. In 1978, an addition by Green Blankstein Russell Associates was made to the northwest section of the library. This addition brought the entrance to grade level and placed it at an angle to the adjacent Administration Building. The original lobby became a mezzanine to make way for a new lobby and circulation control area, and a new central stair was added for circulation. Although the original exterior wall was enclosed by a new precast concrete exterior wall, it was left exposed to the interior space.