Design revealed for Ottawa Public Library, Archives Canada joint facility

OTTAWA – Residents got their first look at the design of the proposed new Ottawa Public Library-Archives Canada joint facility today (Jan. 23).

Mayor Jim Watson, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and MP for Ottawa Centre and Coun. Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board revealed the proposed architectural design for the Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility. Born of a unique collaboration between municipal and federal institutions, the facility will be a city-wide resource that offers all Canadians access to a rich and diverse national collection.

 “After completing an extensive public consultation process, we celebrated a major milestone by revealing the architects’ stunning design for our new Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada joint facility,” Mayor Jim Watson said. “This signifies a very exciting time in our city and brings us one step closer to getting shovels in the ground. I want to thank everyone involved in this process for their input, their work and their creativity in helping us create this world-class destination for residents and visitors. The inspirational design showcases how this facility is more than just a building with books; it will be a welcoming gathering space for us all.”

The design is the direct result of an unprecedented public co-design process that asked Ottawa residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from across the country to provide inspiration at every stage. This collaborative engagement process helped shape all aspects of the facility, inside and out. Public input informed the shape of the building, its entrances, the interaction and location of its spaces, the indoor look and ambience, the inclusive and sustainable features, the landscaping and public art, and the exterior materials. Public and Indigenous engagement for the facility will continue as we finalize the design and move forward with the next stages of the project.

“We are very proud to be revealing the design for an iconic building that truly represents the evolution of libraries as centres of knowledge and culture around the world,” Diamond Schmitt Architects principal Donald Schmitt said. “It’s also a great joy to share this design with the thousands of residents and Canadians who provided so much inspiration at each stage of the process. This has been a wonderful experience for all of us.” 

Following the reveal of a 3-D model of the facility, Schmitt, lead architect for the project, helped bring the building to life by sharing a video walk-through and renderings. Today, the more than 4,000 people who came together in-person and online over the past year to share their ideas and insights with the partners and architects can finally see their inspiration realized.

The design connects the facility to Ottawa’s rich history and natural beauty: its shape is reminiscent of the Ottawa River; its stone and wood exterior reflects the adjacent escarpment and surrounding greenspace. The large windows and top floors offer unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. With its central town hall, children’s discovery centre, genealogy centre, reading rooms, creative centre, meeting rooms, cafés and stunning views, the new facility will be a welcoming home for the stories of Canadians and Ottawa residents.

 When it opens to the public in late 2024, the Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be a landmark destination in the national capital built on the shared values and passions of the partner institutions: knowledge, history, discovery, culture, creativity, collaboration, and connections. This innovative collaboration between a public library and the national library and archives will offer an enriched experience for customers and clients, bringing together diverse collections, providing exhibition and event spaces, along with comfortable gathering spaces and free and open access to millions of documents and the rich Canadian documentary heritage.

They can also view the architectural renderings and video, experience virtual reality stations, and share their thoughts at