Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

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Millennium Library

Formerly:Winnipeg Centennial Library
Address:251 Donald Street
Use:Public Library
Original Use:Public Library
Constructed:1975-1977
Other Work:Interior alterations made in 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and interior and exterior changes made to the library parkade in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Extensive renovations and an addition completed in 2005.
Architects:1975-1977:
Macdonald Cockburn Mcleod McFeetors
Lombard North Group (Landscape Architect)
2005:
Patkau Architects (Vancouver)
LM Architectural Group
Engineers:Crosier Greenberg and Partners (Structural)
Scouten Mitchell Sigurdson and Associates (Mechanical and Electrical)
Contractors:Poole Construction Ltd.
Tours:Part of the QR Code Tour

More Information

Opened on 17 March 1977 by Premier Ed Schreyer, the Centennial Library was colloquially referred to as “Winnipeg’s gift to itself” in celebration of the city’s 100th birthday. Originally designed by architects Ward, MacDonald, Cockburn, McLeod and McFeetors, the project had a dedicated mission to enhance readers’ services and revitalize the downtown area. The Centennial Library was originally designed as a three-storey masonry and concrete structure integrated with an underground parking garage and a landscaped garden on the south side of the site. Seeking to make the library current, user-friendly and inviting, the sweeping design features a spacious plan with open stacks and abundant natural light.

On the exterior, its aggregate precast paneling is respectful of the established buildings nearby. By the year 2000, the library required renovation and expansion to provide for new technological services and expanding collections. Patkau Architects of Vancouver joined local firm LM Architectural Group to design an award-winning expansion and renovation project that added a fourth storey, a multi-level reading terrace and a four-storey glass curtain wall overlooking the garden. As part of the grand opening of the renovated building in 2005, two major works of art were installed as part of the city of Winnipeg’s new public art programme, Untitled (2005) by local artist Cliff Eyland and The Illumination by Lethbridge, Alberta artist Nicholas Wade. The renovation reopened as the Winnipeg Millennium Library.

In 2012 the rear of the site, Millenium Library Park, underwent further renovation to include a revised landscape and two public art projects, emptyful by Bill Pechet and Sentinel of Truth by Winnipeg artist Darren Stebeleski. The original park plan, by Lombard North, was composed around a large open area featuring an angular concrete pond; more intimate seating areas were set closer to the building, as was a smaller pond somewhat hidden by trees and shrubs, waterways, a fountain and walkways. At the centre of the smaller pond, still a highlight of the park today, is a bright orange and yellow abstract sculpture by Manitoba artist Tony Tascona. In the original scheme, adjacent to the main pond stood a raised area housing a concession booth intended as a home for performances and presentations. The landscape architects of the original park advocated for the reversal of the overall site-plan, assuming that the space would receive more visitors if it were located by the building's main entrance. Recent alterations have seen the addition of an entrance facing the park.

Design Characteristics

  • Design Consultant: J. R . D. Turner (Winnipeg)
  • Library plan Area (before addition): 45,552 sq. ft.
  • Parkade plan area: 93,943 sq.ft.
  • No. of parking stalls: 535

Sources

  • Dee Buchwald and Abe Anhang, 'Library expansion into park justified,' Winnipeg Free Press, February 29, 2000, p. A11.
  • Carol Budnick, 'Books to the people in Winnipeg,' Canadian Library Journal (December 1981), pp. 417-21
  • Carol Budnick, 'Libraries in early Winnipeg,' Manitoba Library Association Bulletin (September 19800, pp. 12-17.
  • Bill Burdeyny, 'Courtyard is more for looking than using,' Winnipeg Tribune, May 2, 1977, p. 2.
  • Carol Colliver, 'Excitement mounts over library,' Winnipeg Tribune, January 31, 1974.
  • Linda Cooke, 'Centennial Library already a success,' Winnipeg Tribune, June 2, 1977.
  • Marjorie Earl, 'Space-age colours a help,' Winnipeg Tribune, February 17, 1977.
  • Patrick Flynn, 'Our new library will be the city's pride and joy,' Winnipeg Tribune, September 30, 1976, pp. 1.5/
  • Kim Gutterson, 'Library for the future,' Winnipeg Free Press, Auguts 11, 1997, pp. A1, A2.
  • Kim Gutterson, 'Library plan hits up city for $1.4M,' Winnipeg Free Press, May 19, 1998, p.A3.
  • Jonas Lehrman, 'Downtown Winnipeg: A Need for New Goals,' The Canadian Architect, 20, 6 (jJune 1975), pp. 45-54. [this piece contains a detailed analysis and critique of downtown planning and development, including on p. 52 commentary on the plane Centennial Library.]
  • 'Library makes room for walkway link,' Winnipeg Free Press, April 16, 1986, p.35.
  • Debbie Lyon, "Library moves to new quarters without a hitch,' Winnipeg Free Press, February 24, 1977, p.23.
  • Debbie Lyon, "Thousands of book buffs head downtown to check out the new Centennial project,' Alumni Journal (University of Manitoba) 35, 3 (Spring 1975), pp. 8-9.
  • Lynne MacFarlane, "Better Late than Never -- The New Winnipeg Library: A Centennial Project, " Alumni Journal (University of Manitoba) 35, 3 (Spring 1975), pp. 8-9.
  • Heather Menzies, "Library has become more than modern book house," Winnipeg Tribune, September 24, 1979, p. 10.
  • "Plans for Centennial Library unveiled at civic meeting,' Winnipeg Tribune, May 22, 1974.
  • Aldo Santin, "Two $1-million pledges jump-start library plan,' Winnipeg Free Press, November 29, 1998, p.A3
  • Bob Silver, 'Millennium library key to our future,' Winnipeg Free Press, July 13, 1999, p.A9.
  • 'Some projects will proceed -- despite tight money," Manitoba Business Journal, 6, 3 (March 1970), pp. 30-31.
  • University of Manitoba Libraries, Department of Archives and Special Collections, Winnipeg tribune Subject Clipping Research Files, Microfilm Roll #78, four files on 'Libraries' for the period of 1939 to 1980 and "Libraries-Winnipeg" for the period 1963 to 1980. [The files contain numerous stories on proposals for a new downtown library, including use of the former General Post Office on Portage Avenue, redevelopment of the Isbister School site on Balmoral/Vaughan and the Graham/Donald site originally designated as a parking facility. The file also contains numerous items on the planning of the Centennial Library, including debates as to whether the facades should be covered with Tyndall stone, whether a park should be associated with the library and whether the park should be placed at the front or rear of the building.]
  • Morley Walker, 'Bag-Lady library,' Winnipeg Free Press, June 6, 1999, pp. D1, D2.
  • Val Werier, ' A haven in the halls f concrete,' Winnipeg Tribune, October 29, 1976, p.8.
  • Val Werier, 'Centennial Library is too successful,' Winnipeg tribune, April 29, 1977, p.8.
  • Val Werier, 'Library a setback for setbacks,' Winnipeg tribune, July 5, 1974, p.6.
  • Val Werier, 'The most attractive place in town,' Winnipeg Tribune, March 12, 1977.
  • 'Winnipeg Centennial Library,' Winnipeg Industrial Topics, 36, 6 (December 1976), p. 3.
  • 'Winnipeg opens its birthday gift,' Winnipeg Tribune, March 17, 1977, p.4.

Locations of Supporting Information

  • City of Winnipeg Archives, Minutes of the City Council.
  • Copies of the invitation and official program for the May 4, 1977 opening of the library can be found in the Winnipeg Public Library verticle files at the Centennial Library ("Winnipeg Centennial Library to 1979").
  • University of Manitoba Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, Winnipeg Tribune Photograph Collection. Includes views of the site, excavation and construction photographs in "Preliminary Inventory -- Jeff Debooy/Tribune Negatives," 1975-77 and in "Peter Tittenberger Photograph Collection of the Winnipeg Tribune Negatives," 1974.
  • The Winnipeg Public Library, Annual Reports

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