---City to host new Lucy-Faris Library building architectural contest this fall
Gatineau residents will have their say on the new Lucy-Faris Library’s design this fall, as municipal councillors approved the launch of an architectural contest during the September 22 public council meeting.
Noting that the new three-storey building plans include a two-floor modernized library with various municipal offices, the architectural contest should be an opportunity to help shape old Aylmer’s future with a new “signature” building that should become a staple for community life in the city. The contest should give participants a chance to analyze different comparable solutions; provide architectural solutions strengthening the project’s vision; ensure a quality concept; find modern and innovative solutions; make the selection process transparent; and to land subsidies from the Programme de subvention du Ministère de la culture et des communications.
The contest will include a seven-person jury, with four external architects and a technical committee comprised of city employees. The architectural team selected for the project of rebuilding the library at 115 rue Principale will consist of four people, including architects, mechanics and engineers.
Before the jury announces the winner in the spring of 2021, residents will be able to express which option they prefer during a presentation of four finalist projects this winter. Plan and development specifications should take place between 2021 and 2022. With the Lucy-Faris Library expected to temporarily move to the now closed Aylmer Cinema in the summer of 2021, Place des Pionniers as it currently stands should be demolished that fall.
Tendering for a construction company to build the project will begin in the spring of 2022 and shovels should hit the ground that summer. Construction is expected to be completely built by the summer of 2024, with the library’s official opening in 2025.
The city explained that the timeline will continually be assessed at every step of the planning process and may be subject to adjustment. While the library will be fully owned and operated by the city, the remainder of the planning process should continually involve resident contribution, noting plans to establish a library users committee – which will be responsible for arranging its spaces to integrate the building with a piece of art. The city added that it will assist residents and businesses deal with the impacts of the project’s construction throughout its process.
A newly-created citizens committee will allow a dozen residents to get involved, according to the following conditions: one representative from the Aylmer Heritage Association; one from Arts visuels Gatineau; one designated by Aylmer’s respective residents’ associations; one designated by respective school boards; a randomly picked local adolescent; a randomly selected local senior citizen; one randomly picked local parent; two randomly selected Aylmer residents; two randomly selected residents from other sectors in Gatineau; and one member with reduced mobility for universal access.
With libraries heavily used by residents for various reasons, it stated that the new Lucy-Faris Library will respond to the Aylmer sector’s growing needs.
Deschênes councillor Mike Duggan said the library’s reconstruction is the largest project in Aylmer’s modern history, noting that all Gatineau residents should celebrate it and are invited to use it when it opens. Unable to pinpoint an exact date for the event, Lucerne councillor Gilles Chagnon said the architectural contest should take place in person despite the pandemic. While the architectural contest will cost the city approximately $2 million, Aylmer councillor Audrey Bureau explained that it’s necessary for the city to obtain provincial government support.
Built in 1987, Place des Pionniers – located on 115 rue Principale – has been deemed by city analysts to be past its lifespan. Having undergone 19 structural studies and reviews since 1999, it was shown that its foundation was reinforced in 2001. However, its floors are gradually sinking lower and lower and only 6,600 square metres of the building (76 per cent) are useable, maintain city analysts.
Officials added that the current library doesn’t respond to modern demands, noting that its shelves are 20 per cent overstocked, limiting new products and that it doesn’t feature any multi-use spaces.
Rebuilding the new Lucy-Faris Library in the same location as the old one, the city noted that the 2,700 square metre structure will allow it to hold a larger inventory of products and to have a wider variety of services, specified areas of activity, working and reading spaces as well as extended operating hours. According to the city of Gatineau, 46 per cent of Aylmerites are signed up with the Lucy-Faris Library. It also ranks second of the city’s 10 libraries with approximately 239,000 annual users. With around 118,000 documents available, the library sees about 428,000 annual loans.