Wednesday 10 September 2008


The concourse of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library is a popular hangout, for ESL students in particular. From what I've observed a lot of them study in the concourse and go into the library to sleep. 

Library square takes up the entire city block. It's eye catching and eminently photogenic if not a little controversial. It's one of those 'love it' or 'hate it' buildings. Myself, I think the design is unique, architecturally. But I'm also a practical guy and I think they missed the boat on one or two points when it comes to functionality.

Now for the mild rant. As I recall, cost was an issue at the time of construction. As a consequence I always get the feeling they cheaped out on the finishes. No, I take that back, it isn't a feeling, it's a fact, they used such cheap looking materials on the finishes that I cringe every time I get near the place. End of rant.

The building has a green roof and the project includes an office tower.

Arnie's movie Sixth Day has scenes shot in this concourse. I didn't see the movie and I don't want to see it. Movies shot in Vancouver tend to have 'flop' or 'dog' written all over them.

Architect: Moshe Safdie
Completed: 1996

I'm off galavanting. I've pre-scheduled posts until 9/15 for consistency but I'll be reading comments while I'm away. 


Oridusartic said...

Whoa! The building looks cool, it sure is a very nice place to hang out.

Laurie Allee said...

I love all the unusual buildings in Vancouver. This one looks really interesting. It's a shame they didn't detail it with quality materials. That kind of thing really makes me nuts, too.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't look cheap from your photo anyway!

Films shot in Glasgow tend to have "bloody miserable" written all over them!

Enjoy your break - I'm off for a few days myself tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wayne, I've just seen your message on my blog about the Error 404 message. I think what is happening is that I post pics in advance and schedule them to appear at 00:01 hrs GMT. Google Reader seems to pick them up straight away, but because they're scheduled for a point a couple of hours in the future wordpress won't let you see them until the allotted time, hence the error message! It's a bit of a pain - I have found that bloglines (which I use rather than Google Reader) doesn't pick them up until they're actually published which is much better.

Anyway - sorry for the inconvenience, I'm not techie enough to know how to solve it!

Virginia said...

I like the looks of it as a mall but as a library I guess I revert to my teacher mode and think it would be too noisy or something. Hope the cafe crowd outside doesn't wake up the sleeping students in the library!HA

Virginia said...

Wayne, forgot one more thing. That was not a "proper" rant. Much too tame!

Wayne said...

Virginia, It isn't noisy. Something about the design must absorb sound. You'd think it was a big echo chamber.

That was a tame rant. In real life I foam at the mouth.

Jackie, no worries. It's a blessing for all concerned. By the time my daft comments appear the rest of the group have already moved on.

Felicia said...

Hi Wayne, thanks for visiting me in San Diego. I like this shot and the indoor/outdoor feel. Since I don't visit other DP blogs that much I've been missing out on your inspiring photography and great sense of humor. It's funny in your "P.A.D." and "Stairwell" photos - you are physically putting a little something of yourself in (and taking yourself out of) the photos - hmmm.

Ken said...

I think it's an interesting building.

Unknown said...

They may have used cheap materials on the finishes but the building looks great on the photo... it seems to be a very nice place.

Becky said...

That's great that they study on the concourse and sleep in the library. My husband's a librarian; I'll have to show him this one!

Thanks for your comment on my blog. The foliage is changing ever so slightly in New England. It's mostly green, but occasionally you'll see a splash of red or orange. Not much yellow yet. I hope to see more change by the time we leave in a week.

Have fun in NYC!

Hilda said...

To have a lovely atrium like that in a library — wonderful!

Public libraries in the Philippines are crap! Not just in terms of architecture, but the books themselves. If they were anywhere near decent, maybe our house wouldn't be filled to overflowing with books. =(

Meg said...

Gee, our main library could easily fit into your concourse. But this looks like the inside of Auckland Museum's new addition on the .... backside of the museum!

Jane Hards Photography said...

I like the sweep round you've got in this really leads you through the image.

danielle said...

I love the VPL, admittedly awkward functionality aside!

My mild rant about the place is the damn dirtiness of it, on the approach. There's always like 10 million cigarette butts laying around that plaza by the main doors...garbage...various consumer detritus...kind of grim.