Whistler Public Library

  • Location

    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.

Community Impact

Voted Best Example of Whistler Architecture by the Whistler community for four consecutive years (2009-2012).

Pique Magazine

Design Challenge

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 features.


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


Design Response

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.

  • Completion


  • Size

    1,400 m2

  • Innovation

    First LEED Gold certified library in Canada

  • Award

    Lieutenant Governor of BC Awards for Architecture 2009

  • Award

    World Architecture Festival - Shortlist 2009

  • Award

    SAB Canadian Green Building Award 2010

Design Process

I have travelled the world for 80 years and have never seen a lovelier library!

Archie & Elvira Marshall, Kelmscott, Western Australia