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The Globe and Mail

Three 1960s libraries get a medal-winning makeover

With similar T-shaped floor plans and dated exteriors, the Mississauga buildings needed a facelift. Architect kept costs down by using similar design elements, and by working on all three at once

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The Mississauga Public Library project was honored with a Governor-General’s medal for architecture last month for economic retrofitting. The Lakeview Library, shown here, and two other libraries built in the 1960s were given makeovers by one building designer – Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc. of Toronto.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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After the refit, interior glazed glass walls at Lakeview Library, in a suburb of Toronto, open up the space. ‘All three mid-century modern buildings had quite similar floor plans,’ says lead architect Tyler Sharp. Working on all three as one helped to keep costs down to about $8-million.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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Library stacks were kept low to improve the sense of openness. The buildings all have ‘strong bones,’ says Betty Mansfield, the acting director of library services in Mississauga. They are now accessible to all “and they look modern, yet are respectful of original design.’

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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Prior to the renovations, the T-shaped buildings had little curb appeal. Here, at the Port Credit Library, canopies and shaded walkways now add some drama and offer partial shade for the new, expansive windows.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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On the exterior of the Port Credit Library and the others, a series of colour-changing LED lights were built into perforated columns which colourfully light up the buildings at night.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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Each library was given its own colour palette. Blocky tangerine chairs make a statement in Port Credit which has the lightest colour scheme of the three. Windows now open onto a fabulous view of the Credit River, that had previously been a blank wall.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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At the Lorne Park Library, dark rich tones were used inside and out. One of the most sustainable things that one can do with a building is to adaptively re-use it, Mr. Sharp says. The jury agreed, saying the project was ‘handled with a superb lightness of touch.’

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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Glazed interior walls at the Lorne Park Library open up vistas to the park outside.‘We’re really excited to have better display areas and quiet group study areas in each of them,’ Ms. Mansfield says.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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Big blocky chairs, a shared design element, give the Lorne Park Library lounge area a contemporary look. ‘The big part of all these projects is to draw people back into the libraries,’ says Mr. Sharp, the architect. After the renovations, all of the libraries have reported increased traffic.

Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects Inc.

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