The first public library in the town of Hamilton, Ontario opened in 1890. In 1913, the library moved to a larger building designed by local architect Alfred W. Peene and financed by an Andrew Carnegie grant.
In 1980, the library moved again, this time to a late Brutalist structure a few blocks away. The concrete tower designed by another local architect, Anthony Butler, housed the library on the top floors, while the lower levels were occupied by the farmers market that had been operating on the location for over 150 years.
For the decades to come, the library and the market would share an address but their awkward proximity and the fact that the main library entrance was through a dark interior mall did not enable a close connection between the two.
The transformation brought by Tyler Sharp of RDH Architects working with David Premi Architects (dpAi) in 2008-2011 sought to reconnect the two spaces. The original structure was stripped to its skeleton of waffle slab floors and air ducts. Glass partitions, stairs and elevators connect the market stalls in the lower levels with the upstairs library spaces, both visually and functionally. The LED-lit exterior facade at street level further joins the market and library in a visually coherent space, while retaining the original volume in the the upper floors.
On the day of my visit, the warm sunlight bathing the main library stairwell and the many plants cascading down its walls perfectly offset the cold concrete finish to make the space inviting.
- Central Library. Hamilton Public Library
- Hagel, Caia (2011). Hamilton Farmers Market and Central Public Library. Architect Magazine. June 6, 2011
- The Hamilton Farmers’ Market and Central Public Library / RDH Architects + David Premi Architects, Archdaily, August 4, 2011
- Hamilton Public Library History. Hamilton Public Library (Archived Dec 18, 2017)
- Cardoso de Sousa, Wanessa (2021). Hamilton Public Library – Central Library, Canadian Library Architecture, February 15, 2021
- Hamilton Central Library and Farmers Market, RDH Architects
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!