Five teams in the running to build new downtown library

The main branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Metcalfe Street.

The City of Ottawa says it has narrowed down the list of bidders for the downtown library contract from 33 to five.

The new superlibrary, to be built at 557 Wellington Street, on the edge of LeBreton Flats, would be a joint project between the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

The shortlisted teams are (in alphabetical order):

  • Bing Thom Architects (Canada) – GRC Architects (Canada)
  • Diamond Schmitt Architects (Canada) - KWC Architects (Canada)
  • Mecanoo International b.v. (Holland) - NORR Architects & Engineers Ltd (Canada)
  • Patkau Architects (Canada) - MSDL Architects (Canada) – GRC Architects (Canada)
  • Schmidt/hammer/lassen/ architects (Denmark) - KPMB Architects (Canada) - Hobin Architecture Inc. (Canada)

The City says the five teams have “demonstrated a proven track record in architectural design excellence with projects of a similar size, scope and complexity, and relevant experience in buildings of national, provincial, institutional or civic importance.”

The estimated cost of the project is $168 million. The federal government has earmarked $73.3 million toward the project.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Beyond the News with Brian Lilley, City of Ottawa Library Board Chair, councillor Tim Tierney, says there's a lot of excitement for the project.

"The rubber's already hit the road, we're well on our way," he says. "So, in the next couple of months it'll come back to the library board, as well as city council for a final vote, but we've moved along quite a bit."

While admitting that he has no part in the shortlisting of the five firms, Tierney says the teams are all very reputable.

"We're not building a box here," he says. "We want something very special in the city that will provide the spaces for the programming that's required. That list I've seen -- wow! There are some heavy-hitters in there that have done libraries all over the world. I'm excited to see where it goes."