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Nicholson Sheffield Architects Inc.

358 Talbot Street

London, Ontario

N6A 2R6

T. 519.673.1190

Jim Sheffield

Gerald Gallacher

Walter Derhak

John Nicholson

The London Public Library's Central Branch

London, Ontario

In 2002, the London Public Library opened its new, expanded, state-of-the-art Central Library at 251 Dundas Street, designed by Nicholson Sheffield Architects in conjunction with Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners. The Library purchased and renovated the former Hudson’s Bay Company department store, bringing public space onto Dundas Street.

The Central Library is a welcoming space free to all Londoners, that contributes to the rich culture and diversity of the downtown core. It also offers unique services and programs that bring out-of-town visitors who support London’s tourism. Central Library users, visitors, and staff boost the downtown economy through their spending at local stores and restaurants.

After years of use, the London Public Library required an upgrade to its building in 2015, again selecting our firm to represent them on this high-profile project. This renovation included creating 15,000 sqft of renewed program spaces throughout the Library. Spaces included new meeting rooms for patrons, reconfigured reading spaces and new maker spaces. Stacks were reduced to pave the way for these new spaces.  The main entrance and circulation spaces were reorganized for more efficient flow and access, and new signage and wayfinding was planned. The renovations also included a renewed Children’s Library and the transformation of the previous café space to the new CBC Radio London studio.

In place of the outdated escalators, our firm designed new communication stairs for patrons’ travel between floors. The new stairs renewed the role of the central atrium of the Library to provide inherent wayfinding, to unify the Library spaces and to promote patron flow to the upper floors.

The Central Revitalization not only updated heavily-used infrastructure, but also helped to deliver new experiences, program formats, technology, and service approaches for the Library’s evolving needs. It was important to maintain the basic clarity of the Library spaces, keeping the space that the public knew and loved, while bringing the community’s vision to life of renewed programming.

This project was recognized with the 2018 LDCA Project Excellence Award in the Institutional Under $20 Million category, working with general contractor, Bronnenco Construction Ltd.