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After 23 years, a rooftop garden opens at the VPL’s Central Branch

The library opens the newly renovated top two floors, which now includes a rooftop garden.

In the original design competition for the library building, architect Moshe Safdie imagined either a major public or private garden on the roof. But that never materialized, and the area became what was essentially a grassy green roof closed to the public.

For more than two decades after the library opened in May 1995, the two floors were leased by the provincial government as office space, with the expectation that the space would one day be needed by the library.

Once the lease ended, the library started planning to open up the 8th and 9th floors and add 42,000 sq. ft. of new public space at a cost of $16.8 million. The rooftop garden was designed by landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.

Christina de Castell, who became chief librarian in June, said the rooftop garden and added public space marks a new phase for the Vancouver Public Library.

“It has been a dream that many of us have had to be able to finally welcome the public to this rooftop garden,” de Castell said. “People will have a whole new experience of the space and an incredible new view of the Vancouver skyline.”

The two new floors add needed public community space downtown, she said.

“We see a real need for people to find places to connect with community and their history in free public spaces.”

At a media preview Wednesday morning, numerous construction workers were putting the finishing touches to the two floors, including pouring sand-based grout between the grey granite and dark basalt tiles in the outdoor garden.

If you are seated on the movable patio-style chairs, you will be able to see the white retractable roof on B.C. Place and the numerous satellite dishes on the CBC building.

Seating is also provided by deep-brown ipe (pronounced ‘ee-pay’) wooden benches. Also known as Brazilian walnut, ipe wood is considered hard, strong and resistant to rot.

Plants in the garden include Arbutus hedge, white roses and lavender. By next summer, honeysuckle on the roof is expected to grow and cascade onto a trellis to create a canopy of green over the garden entrance.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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