2014-AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: Bibliotheque du Boise, Montreal

The crafting of this project was compelling - from the site planning, through the programming, right down to the execution of the details. The building has a variety of beautifully lit and welcoming spaces, in keeping with the new role that libraries play as community living rooms. This is also a very high-performance building - an impressive achievement altogether.

The 5,000 m2 Bibliotheque du Boise is located between the busy Boulevard Thimens and Marcel-Laurin Park, an area of protected woodland in the Montreal borough of Ville St-Laurent. The woodland became an important generator in the design of the library, the idea being to create new connections and experiences that would reinforce its value to the community and contribute to the creation of a new and attractive centre for cultural activities.

The program is arranged on two levels around a central skylit entrance atrium, and includes book stacks, multi-media collections, computer work stations, meeting and training rooms, teen and youth areas, a cafe, an exhibition gallery and archival storage. Nestled against the trees and accessed via a sloping walkway that traverses the park from Boulevard Thimans.

The building is linear in plan, a glass prism enveloped in a wooden ‘hull’ that undulates gently in both plan and section. Slatted wood surfaces also define the interior spaces, rising and falling in harmony with the changes in scale from grand to intimate. The public spaces are designed to engage the landscape, with the cafe serving as a ‘gateway’ to the woodland beyond.

The two-storey format minimized the building footprint and provided the opportunity for the planting of 105 trees and 5,000 shrubs, as well as the creation of  detention ponds for stormwater management. The building’s green roof slows the runoff of rainwater which is directed to storage tanks before being returned to the landscape under gravity.

The building is characterized by abundant daylight admitted to 75% of the floor area by way of the central skylight and large areas of high-performance glazed curtain wall. Operable windows are provided for natural ventilation. Transparent partitions and open plan areas mean that 90% of the occupied floor area has views to the exterior. Daylight and occupancy sensors further reduce lighting loads.

Energy for heating and cooling the building is supplied through a combination of an onsite geothermal system and through the purchase of green power certificates for electricity supplied from offsite renewable sources. This two-year commitment helps to encourage growth in the renewable energy sector. The hot air that accumulates in the skylight is recovered and returned to the ventilation system.

Strategies contributing positively to indoor environmental quality and the health of building occupants include: the use of certified wood and low-emitting materials such as adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings, carpet, composite wood and laminates.

Carbon dioxide monitors are also installed. Reclaimed and regional materials percentages were 22.5% and 30% respectively - both qualifying for a  LEED Innovation credit.

The design team took a long-term view, specifying durable materials with minimum maintenance requirements. In addition, consideration was given to ways in which the building would be able to accommodate future growth in the community. Some back of house spaces, for example, are designed to be converted to public use if required, and some spaces [such as the teen area] are delineated by mobile shelving that can be reconfigured easily for specific events or activities.

By setting ambitious goals [particularly in regard to energy use] from the outset, this project has served as a professional development tool for all members of the design team. By combining high-performance standards, design quality and responsiveness to community needs, it has also proven inspirational to other municipalities embarking on similar public projects.

Architects Eric Pelletier architecte, Cardinal Hardy et associés, s.e.n.c., Les Architectes Labonté Marcil s.e.n.c.
Client Ville de Montréal, arrondissement de St-Laurent
Landscape Architect Cardinal Hardy et associés, s.e.n.c.
Structural engineer SDK et associés Inc.
M&E engineers Leroux Beaudoin Hurens et associés Inc.
Acoustic Consultant Davidson & Associés inc.
LEED Consultant EXP
General Contractor Pomerleau inc.

Steel and concrete construction with curtain wall, skylights, prefabricated wall panels with metal facing, vegetated roof, Interface carpet tile. Geothermal providing in-floor heating using the Uponor system. Pumps by Taco Canada Ltd .

Energy Intensity [building and process energy] = 289 kWh/m2

Energy Cost Savings Relative to reference building under MNECB = 79%

Regional Materials [800 km radius] by value = 44%

Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 30%

Construction waste diversion = 84%

Potable water consumption [in-building + irrigation] = 876L/occupant/year

In building potable water use reduction = 87%

Irrigation potable water use reduction = 100%

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