Interior shot of the Whistler Public Library front desk and book stacks.

Whistler Public Library


Whistler, BC

As one of the only truly public spaces in one of the world’s premier ski resorts, the Whistler Public Library is an inclusive community living room loved by locals and visitors alike. The open, light-filled space celebrates the community’s passion for the outdoors by showcasing its stunning surroundings and through its commitment to sustainable design.

Outside view of Whistler Public Library, which uses wood beams and a grassy roof.
People reading under wooden roof, accompanied by painting.

"With the guidance of hcma, the Whistler Public Library Board had a vision of what we wanted to see and feel in the new library. I am very proud to say when I walk into the new library full of community members enjoying the services it is due to hcma’s understanding our vision and making it a reality."

Anne Townley, Chairperson, Whistler Public Library

More than a library

“Strong and wrong”—this choir embraces the indescribable power of making music together. At Whistler Public Library, a communion of voices fills the air with song—pitch be damned. It's not just a place for books, it's a venue for belonging

This short film is part of The Space Between film series, a growing collection of stories that offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who use the buildings we design: the people we design for.

To learn more and discover other stories, visit The Space Between.

Strategies for flexibility and sustainability

The project evolved from a joint library and museum to a library with end of trip facilities. There was a desire to provide the flexibility that new media and technologies require while also carefully considering the relationship between reader and book. Set on a steep sloping site, the building needed to be raised to create a strong civic presence along a main civic promenade. Because the cultural life of the municipality is so strongly connected to the environment, it was essential to showcase the project’s sustainable design strategies features.

A place for community

When they embarked on designing a much needed replacement for an aging temporary facility, the Resort Municipality of Whistler sought to create a sustainably -designed, dynamic civic focal point to support library programming and growth.

Exterior of the Whistler Public Library, highlighting the mono-pitched roof and wood structure among a mountainous backdrop.
A ski-town success story

The library is a home for local residents and a home away from home for Whistler’s seasonal and temporary guests. In all seasons it offers a warm and light filled space defined by an innovative and modern interpretation of the region’s traditional timber and stone architecture, and draws on direct connections to the immediately adjacent forested areas as well as the expansive mountain views beyond.

A large multipurpose room next to the entrance can be used for lectures, artist talks or community events even after regular library hours. The entrance court becomes a venue for summer festivals and events, extending the reach of the building into the community. A fireside lounge, kids area, business and study centre and end of trip facilities for skiers and snowboarders are all well used.

Innovative use of wood

From the outset, the brief for the Whistler Public Library was clear that the building design was to promote the community’s sustainable development ambitions in a visually apparent manner. The most dramatic green strategy utilized in the project is the laminated hemlock roof system. This assembly acknowledges the tradition of craft evolving in Whistler and draws inspiration from the vernacular architectural language of Whistler. Hemlock is a highly accessible and readily available wood species that was under-utilized in wood construction at the time. The design team developed a panel system of staggered and laminated 4”x12”’s that were simply fabricated without the use of glue into 4’ wide panels and cut to length as required.

Interior of library, showing off the wooden roof.

Other Projects