Tommy Douglas Library


A source of light.

This bright, 17,500 square foot library serves the diverse Edmonds Town Centre neighbourhood with a catalogue of over 80,000 books and reference materials. The project, a joint venture between HDR | CEI and Diamond and Schmitt Architects, incorporates a variety of sustainable features, including a green roof, natural daylighting, geo-exchange heating and an underground cistern that collects rainwater from the roof that is in turn used for landscape irrigation.

The design of the facility emphasizes openness and accessibility. The main library space is a large room with a high ceiling. Exterior glazing adds to the sense of transparency and connectivity between library patrons and pedestrians outside. Given the importance of the site, which faces Kingsway, a prominent thoroughfare, the scale of the building as viewed from the street influenced the design. The high ceiling contributes to daylighting by allowing high-level light from the clerestory windows to diffuse across the room. The added height helps with the ventilation of the space — automated, high-level windows open to allow hot air to escape, exploiting natural convective forces.

The library has been described by visitors as “light and airy,” and “bright and welcoming.” It is achieving its goal of providing the community with a social gathering place that encourages reading, research and interaction. According to library statistics, Burnaby residents borrowed 33 percent more items from the new Tommy Douglas Library in its first full month of operation than they did from the former branch in a comparable month, suggesting that the library has opened a successful new chapter for residents of Burnaby.

Project Cost



17,500 sq ft


Nov 2009

Sustainable Features

  • LEED Gold
  • Large windows for maximized natural light
  • Light sensors and auto dimmers conserve energy
  • Thermal energy from ground-source exchange system distributes through radiant-floor heating
  • Displacement ventilation system independent from heating system
  • Natural ventilation from both manual and automated opening windows
  • Roof water collected in underground cistern, used for landscape irrigation
  • Rooftop garden reduces stormwater discharge and helps cool the building

Related News

Tommy Douglas Library achieves LEED Gold

May 17, 2012


Library Building Award of Merit, 2010

BC Library Association



City of Burnaby


Burnaby, BC


Recreation & Community