Calgary Central Library
The New Central Calgary Library
The New Central Library opened its doors to the public in 2018 as the centerpiece of Calgary's East Village Redevelopment. The new structure is a building worthy of all the attention it has already attracted. Architects from Snøhetta were joined by Dialog, Stuart Olson, Entuitive, and StructureCraft as they designed and built this modern space “to inspire all", as the City of Calgary envisioned.
Our scope, the wood soffit, makes up part of the "skin" of the building, an architectural feature of curved Western Red Cedar battens flowing along the ceiling and down to the walls, difficult to not catch the visitor's attention.
Visit http://yycnewcentrallibrary.com/ for more details.
Computational design was critical in enabling the 3D geometry creation, structural analysis, CNC milling
data, and fabrication drawings for this project. Custom algorithms were written to randomize the
position of batten joints across the soffit, while respecting fabrication constraints such as the maximum
overlap between panels. A parametric 3D modelling approach allowed rule sets for the prefabricated
panels and battens to be established and then automatically produce 3D models and fabrication
information for each of the 170 panels.
Computational design on this project enabled a vertically integrated approach, linking design,
engineering, and fabrication information. As the overall geometry of the surface changed throughout
the design, both structural analysis and generation of fabrication information was automatically
Our scope, the wood soffit, makes up part of the “skin” of the building, an architectural feature of curved Western Red Cedar battens flowing along the ceiling and down to the walls, difficult to not catch the visitor’s attention.
The freeform soffit for Calgary’s new public library forms a doubly curved underbelly and entrance to the building. The surface is created with Western red cedar battens; the battens are initially straight, and are bent and twisted as they are applied onto panels, following minimum energy curves known as geodesics across the surface. To apply these battens in place would have been impossible both from a labor and an accuracy standpoint. Accurate prefabrication was a must.
To create the complex geometry, the soffit is built with prefabricated panels, with the battens attached to a ribbed structure of CNC’d backing elements. Over 20,000 unique pieces of CNC-profiled wood form the 300 panels in this structure. Each panel spans up to 25 feet, connecting to each other and curving down toward the ground, creating an entrance intended to attract the public into the building.