Drummondville Public Library

  • area / size 61,892 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • Location Drummondville, Canada,
  • Chevalier Morales and DMA architectes collaborated to complete the Drummondville Public Library with clean lines, open space, and a clean design in Drummondville, Canada.

    The architects desired to work with the entire site; they considered the library building from a broader perspective, as a civic facility part of a large integrated civic complex within a park. The main objective was to use this project as a catalyst to reverse the growing isolation the site was facing as it was becoming cut off from Lindsay Street, the main commercial and human-scale avenue of the city. To address this problem, they engaged a dialogue between the other project on the site: the skating rink, as well as the various components of the library.

    Physically, the project positions itself on the site in relation to the power line, positioning itself on either side of the easement. Using the axis of the power line as a mirror, the main library building sits along the easement line to the east, linked to Des Forges Street, while the skating rink and its accessory building are on the west side. This strategy creates the impression of a single larger project, reaching Lindsay Street with a linear walkway along a garden – the Jardin des Voltigeurs – and creating a public space on the street, which can be used for seasonal events.

    By locating most of the parking to the south alongside the big box retailers, which also creates a visual and sound barrier, all the project’s components fall into their appropriate place. This organizational structure of the site both grounds the library and allows the municipality to gradually increase programming to reflect the seasons and the municipality’s sports and cultural development priorities. The site will vibrate to the rhythm of festivals, day camps, hockey games or even host Christmas markets.

    While developing the project, the architects were also attentive to the lighting of the site, including elements such as an electric meadow in the Jardin des Voltigeurs, a series of light points along the power line and the walkway, and by installing illuminated soffits under the building’s overhang. This electrical park is a tribute to one of the important aspects of Drummondville’s history: electricity.

    Organization of the library
    The layout of the library and other programming elements, such as the Drummondville Historic Society and the Arts and Culture and Immigration Department is untraditional. From the outset the architects decided that people should be able to enter the site freely, as one would a shopping centre or a train station; a café was therefore placed at its centre with tables positioned to take in attractive vantage points or offer privacy.

    At the center of the space, within an impressive double-height space, unfolds the vertical circulation: a grand sculptural staircase composed of two off-centered helical stairs, opening several vantage points onto the library, the exhibition areas and the garden adjacent to the periodical reading room. The large intermediate landing of this staircase serves a dual purpose: it can be used to showcase collections or objects on display and gives visitors a place to pause or change direction, reinforcing the idea of free circulation.

    The two gardens remain present on the second floor and help define the level’s two main areas: fiction and non-fiction for adults, the latter also leading to the terrace located to the south. Between these two areas on the south side of the library is an electronic library and an area for teens, both adjacent to the bleachers. These create both a space for families, bridging the children and adult areas, and a unique space that offers views of the skating rink and winter sports, or, in summer, views of an area where a wide range of activities can take place.

    Architect: Chevalier Morales and DMA architectes
    Photography: Adrien Williams, courtesy of Chevalier Morales