Previously located on the second floor of the Capilano Mall, the Edmonton Public Library’s Capilano Branch needed a new home that would overcome its accessibility challenges. In 2015, input from a public gathering also dictated that a new facility provide generous amounts of natural light along with community rooms, private and semi-private meeting and study spaces.

The building site offered an additional challenge: a narrow, 60-metre wide grassy site, bordered on one side by Edmonton’s Fulton Ravine and a neighbourhood street on the other.

Project Essentials

  • LocationEdmonton, AB
  • ClientEdmonton Public Library
  • ArchitectPatkau Architects and Group2
  • BudgetCAD $11.8 million
  • Size11,000 ft² (1,022 m²)
  • Sustainable FeaturesCertified LEED Silver

In order to accommodate the program space requirements, the allowance for natural lighting and to build on a narrow site, the design team devised a jagged roof of three peaks running along the length of the building, giving the appearance of different roofs collapsing against each other. The peaked shaped allowed for the installation of additional diffused glazing and the concealment of mechanical and electrical services.

Alongside the architectural team of Patkau Architects and Group2 Architecture, Fast + Epp was able to recommend a relatively simple structural system to achieve the complex triple-peak form that could also be quickly erected. Fast + Epp created a repetitive series of welded steel frames that were each a cross-section of the entire building form, over which a roof of Douglas-Fir timber panels could be installed.

The steel frames were pre-fabricated and delivered on site in two pieces, and the mass timber panels, which connect the jagged steel frames, were installed in just a few days.

The new library represents a significant upgrade from its old home and places the library in the heart of the community. The Branch’s new ground floor location, complete with natural light and study space featuring the ravine as a backdrop, is by nature more accessible and will serve over 198,000 visitors annually.

Images courtesy James Dow + Patkau Architects