No. 291 . 14 June 2006 
ArchitectureWeek
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Grande Bibliothèque du Québec

by Terri Whitehead

A grand pedestrian promenade behind the front facade of the new Grand Bibliothèque of the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales de Québec (BAnQ) links directly with the Metro, creating a 24-hour public thoroughfare tied into the fabric of the local community. The new library, in Montréal's Latin Quarter, houses two major collections: a large national reference library and an extensive lending library. But the 355,000-square-foot (33,000-square-meter), five-story glazed structure serves more than books.

The skylit promenade offers pedestrians views up into the library and out across the street. It weaves demanding programmatic elements such as libraries, community facilities, and exhibition spaces into the fabric of the local community. The building relates well to the urban surroundings and provides a variety of daylit reading spaces within the constraints of the $100 million budget.

In 2000, Vancouver's Patkau Architects won the first international architecture competition ever held in Québec, the French Canadian province, home to about a quarter of Canada's population. There was French-only advertising and supporting documentation for the competition, and all international competitors were required to partner with a Québec firm.   >>>

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