The blending of historic renovation and contemporary addition to the Strathcona Library has been extremely successful. The Strathcona Library has existed since 1913 as a three dimensional set piece within a small urban park. This park comes alive each August when it is home to open air theatre and lined with food and craft kiosks. The significant challenges to this project called for adding sufficient area to the library in order to remain viable while retaining the three dimensional historic presence and still accommodating the needs of the Fringe Festival.
As Edmonton=s first library, this Provincial Historic Resource is a two storey building with a full basement designed in the English Renaissance Revival style. The addition and re-occupying the second floor have allowed the Library to almost double in size.
To meet restoration standards, a new addition had to be “compatible with the size, scale, colour, material, and character” of the building to which it attached. A new addition will always change the size or actual bulk of the historic building. However, an addition that bears no relationship to the proportions and massing of the historic building will overpower the historic form and scale; compromising the historic character.
The most striking quality of the addition is the subservient yet complementary relationship to the historic building. The building height was purposely kept to a minimum and the materiality of the original was maintained. This enabled a contemporary curvilinear design to mesh with the historic original. Careful detailing creates a distinctive break from old to new. The use of brick, the general scale of the windows and concrete banding on the original building have been carried over to the addition as a historic gesture.
Both the renovation and the addition have been an enormous success. The Library is extremely pleased to be in such a unique building. It has been recognized as a benchmark by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation in light of both the original building and the sensitive treatment of the modern addition. The Strathcona Library has received a Heritage Conservation Award from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and an Award of Excellence form the Masonry Association of Alberta.