Library nominated for international architecture award 

Despite receiving mixed reviews when it opened last year, the Whistler Public Library is now being recognized on a global level for its architecture.

The $12 million community building is on the short list for the 2009 World Architecture Festival Awards which organizers announced on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Between Nov. 4 and 6 in Barcelona, Spain, the library will compete with 13 other structures from around the world to win the top prize in the civic and community category. Other nominees in the category come from as far as Algeria, Croatia, Mexico, Ghana and Vietnam.

The Richmond Olympic Oval building has also been nominated for this year's awards.

The first World Architecture Festival was held last year, also in Barcelona Spain, with the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Centre in China winning the civic category.

Since opening its doors in January 2008, the Whistler library designed by Hughes Condon Marler Architects has been busy with people using the free wireless Internet, checking out magazines, newspapers, books, movies, CDs and video games, and gathering for public discussions.

It is the first municipal building in Whistler to apply Gold LEED (Leadership, Energy and Environmental Design) certification through its use of low-emitting and local material, natural light and air, reduced water use, and optimized energy performance. Engineers project the building uses 45 to 50 per cent less energy than a comparable facility would with no environmental initiates.

The library's roof is also made of hemlock panels supported by glue-laminated timber and steel, and is covered in green shrubs.

Despite its sound design however, the 12,000 square foot building has been a source of controversy within the Whistler community because it was built for almost $5 million more than originally budgeted. Municipal staff report that most of the extra costs stemmed from pricier-than-anticipated materials and labour.

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