Indigenous architect designing Saskatoon's new library named one of Maclean’s top 50 powerful people

The Indigenous architect who is leading the design of the new central library in Saskatoon has been named among Maclean's top 50 powerful Canadians.

Alfred Waugh, who is the founder of Formline Architecture, says it was “quite a surprise” when he found out his name was on the list.

Waugh says he’s dedicated his career to working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to try and bring the two worlds together.

He says he works directly with Indigenous people to help them develop an identity that suits them in the 21st century and that links “one foot in the past and one foot in the present day.”

“I think there is some value in kind of binding Indigenous ways with Western science to look at a new way of living on this earth,” Waugh told CTV News.

The Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) issued a Request for Proposal for a design consultant in 2018 and Waugh’s business, Formline Architecture, was one of three companies chosen for the project.

Waugh says it’s an honour and a privilege to be designing the new library since his mother’s roots are from Saskatchewan.

“It’s a large responsibility. There are challenges that come with civic project like this, there’s a lot of political views that revolve around a project like this.”

He says the library is a “living room for downtown” and a place of learning, discovery, a place for people to come together and feel safe.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how they can bring our vision alive through their design,” Carol Cooley, CEO of Saskatoon Public Library, told CTV News.

Choosing an Indigneous architect was important given the demographics of the city as SPL wants the building to be a flagship for reconciliation.

Cooley says SPL was pleased when Alfred was named in Maclean’s top 50 powerful Canadians as it’ll bring attention to the project.

“It’s important we think if we’re going to be a flagship for reconciliation, or maybe the rest of the country to consider the message we’re trying to communicate.”

The new central library will be located at 323 2nd Avenue N is set to be completed in 2026.