March 2021

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76 | M A R C H 2 0 2 1 P H OTO G R A P H Y BY A N D R E W L AT R EI L L E /CO U RT E SY T EEP L E A RC H I T EC T S I N C . Stanley A. Milner Library Renewal STANLEY A. MILNER LIBRARY RENEWAL by ROBIN BRUNET I t has been revered, criticized, and referred to as everything from a battleship to a lair for a James Bond villain. In short, the Stanley A. Milner Library renewal in Edmonton is everything bold architectural expres- sion should be: provocative. And nobody could be happier than Pilar Martinez, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library (EPL). "Of all the descriptions I've heard, the one I like best is 'think tank', because that's exactly what the Stanley A. Milner Library is," she says. While the LEED Silver library's exte- rior of multiple planes and aggressive lines has provoked controversy, the interior is equally unique, comprised of a multi-storey atrium of ramps, open spaces, and glazed areas, all of odd geometries and soaring angles. But these elements don't detract from the library's function, which is aided by: an interactive video simu- lation wall, the biggest digital exhibit in North America with 287 screens; an 11,000-square-foot children's library with indoor playground (three times the space of the original); a 10,000-square- foot Makerspace; a 1,336-square-foot gamers' area; and Thunderbird House, an Indigenous gathering space. Talk of renovating the original 1967 library dates back to the early 2000s and was partly motivated by a facade revamp in the 1990s that appealed nei- ther to the EPL or the public. "Also, the building's energy efficiency was less than acceptable," says Martinez. "So, in 2011 we launched an exterior design project based on funding of $1-million and retained Teeple Architects and Stantec, the latter being the architect of record. Halfway into that process we decided to upgrade the interior." Teeple Architects' founder and principal Stephen Teeple explains, "Each floor was isolated and the lay- out wasn't great. The original library was basically a box and very inward focused, and early on we realized that if we stretched the skin outward to achieve better connectivity to a future LRT line and other transit, we could also create a huge atrium that would fundamentally change the ambiance." What followed was a long process of persuading City Hall about the proj- ect's viability, fundraising, and grant applications. "Altogether we obtained $62.5-million in funding, not knowing that much later on, during construc- tion, structural problems would oblige us to increase our budget to a total cost of $84.5 million," says Martinez. "The additional funding came par- tially from reallocation of funds from other EPL projects and savings, as well as from the City of Edmonton reha- bilitation and renewal capital budget – earmarked specifically to support projects like this. EPL committed to raising $10 million towards the Milner Library project and was able to raise over $18 million thanks to major donors, the Provincial and Federal Governments as well as donations from individuals and organizations." The design evolved from the origi- nal exterior upgrade of a shimmering white and metallic facade with tiny windows to a creation deemed too expensive, to the final angular itera- tion. "It was very much a 3D modelling exercise using Rhino and then REVIT to figure out the geometry," says Teeple, adding that the atrium com- bined with strategic cuts into the building's stacked floorplates created a variety of inspiring new spaces, plus dynamic views between various areas. "As for exterior cladding, we examined all sorts of curtain wall, but a limited budget compelled us to choose zinc as a primary material, which would give us LEED reflective building credit. A thermal clip system resulted in a completely thermally broken super high-energy performance envelope." The library was closed in 2016, and large chunks of concrete floor were removed to prepare for what would be a largely open-air atrium. A steel frame defining the new exterior shape was erected around the library, and Clark Builders began the long task of asbestos abatement and demolishing down to the studs. "In order to per- form seismic upgrades we dug down beneath the lower parkade level and upgraded footings sizes," says proj- ect manager Michael Duchcherer. "We built concrete shear walls from the parkade up to the main floor and between main and sixth floor installed steel cross bracing." The atrium spaces required a virtual forest of scaffolding that rose to the roof level "and on which crews worked for a good 10 months, until the spring of 2019," accord- ing to Duchcherer. "The progression was from top to bottom and no big machinery – all by hand." Acoustic panels were used extensively with various coatings to create a warm and contemporary ambiance. The mechanical work, provided by Arrow Engineering Inc., included implementing a new chiller, cooling tower, pumps, piping, plumbing fix- tures, fire protection, digital controls, fancoil units for HVAC zone control on each floor, as well as new ventilation air systems, with the system selection partly influenced by the obligation to use exist- ing duct shafts and mechanical space. The appearance of the Stanley A. Milner Library may have offended a few critics, but the completed facility has delighted patrons. "When people walk through our doors the expression is one of delight," says Martinez. "I'm abso- lutely thrilled with the outcome." A LOCATION 7 Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton, Alberta OWNER /DEVELOPER Edmonton Public Library DESIGN ARCHITECT Teeple Architects Inc. ARCHITECT OF RECORD Stantec GENER AL CONTR ACTOR Clark Builders STRUCTUR AL CONSULTANT Fast + Epp MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Arrow Engineering Inc. TOTAL SIZE 227,732 square feet TOTAL COST $84.5 million

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