Children’s Library Expansion Concept for VPL Main Branch


November 29, 2022



The Vancouver Public Library (VPL) has unveiled new developments in its long-standing plan to renovate and expand the Children’s Library, located in the basement level of the Central Branch at Library Square in downtown Vancouver. Recently, VPL initiated the bidding process to hire an architectural team to execute the detailed design and complete the project.

Proposed Enhancements

The Children’s Library will undergo a complete enhancement and reconfiguration, featuring an indoor play area and a parent room. Previously inaccessible staff-only areas will become accessible to the public, expanding the Children’s Library and increasing its total floor area to nearly 7,000 sq ft.

According to the procurement file, the expansion and rejuvenation will create new spaces for compelling hands-on programming that will feature the following:

  • A dramatic central feature with multiple levels for climbing and exploration;
  • Expand activity areas;
  • Provide increased seating.
VPL Children's Library
Central Feature for climbing and exploration.

Additionally, the Children’s Library itself will serve as a destination space for children, families, caregivers, and educators, offering access to collections, reference and information services, technology, public programming, and public space.

VPL Children's Library
The central space provides multiple fun options for seating and reading.

New Feature

DA Architects + Planners and Safdie Architects, the design firm of renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who designed Library Square in the 1990s, conducted a feasibility study suggesting the possibility of utilizing the new play area for the Children’s Library’s signature central space and installing suspended feature “cloud” art overhead as an interactive element. Library patrons will have the ability to alter the LED lighting colors within the clouds using remote control. Additionally, the clouds will function as sound absorbers, reducing the echo effect caused by the high-ceiling, concrete-walled space.

VPL Children's Library
Suspended feature clouds.

Projected Plans

Detailed design work is expected to be completed throughout 2023 and construction will commence in 2024. The existing Children’s Library space will close during construction. Its collections and programming will temporarily relocate to a 5,300 sq ft area on the Central Branch’s second level. The upcoming enhancements to the Children’s Library represent some of the largest upgrades to the Central Branch since the completion and opening of Library Square in 1995.

Latest Upgrades

In 2018, VPL opened a significant 59,000 sq ft expansion of the Central Branch on the eighth and ninth levels, which were previously used as provincial government offices, at a cost of $15.5 million. This expansion also included the creation of a new, extensive outdoor public space on the building’s rooftop. DA Architects + Planners and Safdie Architects also designed the expansion.

Visit the Library Square Expansion project page here.