Kenneth Chan in VanCity Buzz details the planned 40,000 sq. ft. $15.5M upgrades to VPL Downtown.


The seventh and eighth floors are coming off a 20-year Provincial Gov’t lease. The plan is for the eighth and the roof to be turned into (very welcome) public space, to include:

  • 77-seat auditorium
  • Art and exhibit space
  • Meeting rooms
  • Quiet reading room
  • Outdoor terraces
  • 8000 sq. ft. public garden (roof)
  • 8000 sq. ft. of indoor area (roof)


CoV is thinking of the seventh floor for the City of Vancouver Archives at some future date.

Plenty of surprises, but none as big as this:  quoting Sandra Singh, Chief Librarian of VPL on future plans.

Singh also noted that the basement-level children’s library is often at capacity and staff are looking at ways to expand and update that level. Since the library was built, the downtown population has soared and that includes many families with young children.

“When this library was built in 1995, nobody imagined the extraordinary number of families that would be living in the downtown area,” she said. “This has become not just the Central Library to them but also their local neighbourhood library.”




  1. This sounds great. I always thought that Cornelia Oberlander’s green roof was intended to be public in the first place. Or should have been, anyway.

  2. Kenneth Chan in VanCity Buzz (May 10), “details of the planned 40,000 sq. ft. $15.5M upgrades to VPL Downtown.

    Wow an upgrade: the building is little over twenty years old and woweeeee all that new space already!

    The glass library at Robson and Burrard was going on forty years, no leaks, at the time of its demise and I do not recall any renovations of similar magnitude.

    And C$15.5m when the dust settles: double if it ever gets off the ground.

    So, wots up then? Is this vaunted contraption out of date already? Modeled supposedly on Rome’s Coliseum built somewhere around AD 42: now that’s good contemporary architectural inspiration for ya! As an aside, it is really nothing like the original: the two are at odds function-wise (blood and guts, mindless killing of animals, possibly humans too, versus kids told to shut up, sit still while momma gets her hair done!) and I personally would be just as happy if the comparison was abandoned!

    Talk has it that that end of Georgia is to be Vancouver’s cultural precinct. If that’s still in the works it’s off to a bad start (Main post office, QE Theatre, new VAG, the two domes, CBC, the Roman thingie) where do we fit in?

    I remember the competition for the new library design, although I did not enter. It seemed at the time to be ramshackle sort of thingie put together for the convenience of, then Mayor Campbell, to exercise his whim.

    And he did!

    1. The design changes if you look at the proposed space, is for group public gatherings for information/in person knowledge exchange, different types of people-making/public space to facilitate informal face to face dialogue. Social gathering places that is flexible or for solo thinkers/readers. The garden space might actually offer plein d’air painting groups. 🙂

      This is the trend for public libraries: design facilities that encourage people to have conversation, learn in person…not buried away solo /isolated at home in front of our computers. (But as we all know solo computer users can be at the library also.) And some of the library public socila space is intended to be free/nearly free vs. café where one feels obligated to buy a coffee to use space.

      This is the trend….for the past 25 years or more. Beyond stereotypes of dusty books.

    2. August 19, 1988 A high-pressure water main feeding the new sprinkler system in the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library at Robson and Burrard burst, soaking hundreds of rare books and bound periodicals. Said a newspaper report: “More than 200,000 books and newspapers in the basement of the Robson and Burrard Building were doused in the 10-minute shower . . . Workers mopped up much of the mess, using 2,000 kg of newsprint to blot the moisture out of the less severely damaged items.

      “Chief librarian Barbara Bell said staff stacked the most badly soaked items into 236 milk crates and sent them off to be freeze-dried, which stops water damage and mold growth.” BC Ice and Cold Storage froze the books to prevent mildew until they could be shipped to BMS Catastrophe Ltd., in Fort Worth, Texas. There, the books were freeze-dried, and the resultant ice crystals removed, preserving fragile paper and bindings. Though quick action preserved much of the collection, losses included 400 books, as well as several art periodicals printed on clay-coated paper stock that turned to muck in the flood. Totally lost was a 23-year bound collection (1939 to 1961) of the Province and Vancouver Sun newspapers.

  3. “Totally lost was a 23-year bound collection (1939 to 1961) of the Province and Vancouver Sun newspapers.” One would have to double check via your library card bar code ID to see if those newspaper years are covered electronically on the licensed research databases.

    Not everything is or will ever be digital…there has to be time and staff cost coverage by a party to convert electronically. Federal Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans recently trashed a lot of their published research time/cost of scanning for older content. There is research gone…forever and all that analysis with it.

    But yes, all Internet info. is free, right? No, not even on urban planning for the meatier content. There’s a lot of meaty content hidden behind a paywall.

    People crave for verifiable information as long-lasting evidence (even if electronic) to help plan for the future. Look at the cross-Canada relief of reintroducing the long census by Statistics Canada this year, and to hopefully published analyses to support planning and program planning for public and private sectors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *