A Toronto library shows modern knowledge hubs need not be boring or dry

Celebrating design, Scarborough’s library transcends its purpose as a knowledge hub into a point of pride for the city’s residents

The Scarborough library in Toronto, Canada, is everything at once: Technologically adaptable, design centred and green. Its spaces are flexible, allowing for a variety of events and interaction between the community’s ever-growing and diverse population.

It is Toronto’s 100th public library and it demonstrates what a library can be in the 21st century.

LGA Architectural Partners conceived the architecture to be a green respite within the immediate, heavily urban context. Four roofs, each a ribbon-like band and planted with local vegetation, will, once-rooted, be stirring to both passers-by from the street, and people within the library, who will see the ornamental grasses and plants through the building’s many windows. With much of the roof planted, the building replenishes the grassy hill it supplants.

To ensure maximum flexibility (as well as barrier-free accessibility), the open concept, 14,500-square-foot branch rests all on one floor. All the tables and all the stacks are on wheels for easy reorganisation. The raised podium floor has a grid of moveable electrical and data connections that can be re-arranged as needed.

Even the two separate rooms adjacent to the central hall — the innovation hub and the multi-purpose room — are portioned with glass walls to allow for visual continuity. Although the stacks are currently arranged by age, they all ring a central gathering space to allow interaction between different demographics.


Architects: LGA Architectural Partners

All images: Ben Rahn, Stephane Groleau