625 Boulevard du Carrefour, Gatineau, Quebec J8T 8L8
Plenary Properties Gatineau (PPG) has been chosen by the Government of Canada to design, build, finance, and maintain Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) new preservation facility to be constructed adjacent to its existing preservation centre. The new state-of-the-art preservation facility is a solution to LAC’s ongoing and future needs for special purpose infrastructure that provides appropriate preservation and access space for its analogue archival holdings.
The building, containing archival records, will include six vaults, each fitted with high-density shelving and an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). Each vault will require specific temperature and humidity set points as well as security and fire prevention and suppression systems.
The facility will support LAC’s 500-year archival preservation objective and 100-year building lifespan. It will be the world’s largest preservation facility equipped with the advanced technology of an ASRS for archival materials. The vaults within the existing preservation centre will also be reconfigured as part of the project, to further optimize LAC’s collection storage capacity.
The minimalist compact building design will be respectful of the cultural and natural heritages of the site, which identify respectively with the preservation centre and the surrounding habitat. Through plans for environmental management and erosion/sediment control, ecological and archeological mitigation measures will be implemented throughout construction.
The project is set to achieve LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver at a minimum. It will be the first Net Zero Carbon building dedicated to the preservation of archives in the Americas and the first federal building built to the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy.
ARCHITECTURAL AND LANDSCAPE CONCEPT
Determination of the best design for this new archival facility was guided by LAC’s requirements and Authorities Having Jurisdiction, including the National Capital Commission (NCC). The primary design driver was in meeting and exceeding best practice standards for archival preservation and protection.
Globally, national archives precedents have all been built above grade, including the existing Preservation Centre. During a design development discussion with Ron Keenberg (designer of the existing Preservation Centre), it was learned that the primary reason the vaults for the Preservation Centre were built on or above grade was to avoid the specific risk of groundwater infiltration and consequent damage to the archival material contained within. It was decided that the best place for the archival collections is above and away from any groundwater; PPG has created a building design accordingly.
The size and height of the building presented a challenge in relation to the existing Preservation Centre, in terms of proximity and view issues. To ease these issues, the orientation of the new building is adjusted by rotating it 45 degrees and placing it 20 metres from the existing building. This will maximize views and access north light for the workshops at level 5 of the existing facility.
From the early stages of design development, PPG’s design focused on ensuring the new facility will be a high performance, environmentally responsible building that operates efficiently and ensures environmental conditions meet requirements to protect LAC’s Archival Records. The Project will be designed and constructed to achieve a minimum of LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification.
The new preservation facility will:
Help to preserve LAC’s existing and future analogue textual holdings by providing optimum preservation conditions through modern standards-based design and state-of-the-art technology. These conditions will reduce the risk associated with moving archival documents while achieving operational efficiencies and minimizing duplication of infrastructure support;
Provide Value for Money for Canadians by providing and maintaining a high quality and long-lasting asset that will meet advanced preservation standards at the lowest life cycle cost possible, and by benefiting from a return on investment; and
Foster Sustainable Development and Urban Integration by contributing to Gatineau's landscape with architectural quality and features that complement existing infrastructure. This will be achieved while supporting the federal government's sustainable development goals with a design that meets the Net Zero Carbon requirements of the Greening Government Strategy, as well as the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard. Sustainable development and urban integration will also be achieved by protecting the surrounding natural environment through environmental monitoring and mitigation measures.
The entire project includes:
The design, build, finance, maintenance and lifecycle of a new Net Carbon Zero and LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified preservation facility of 13,000 m2 that supports a 500-year archival preservation objective with predefined environmental set points and an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS);
The maintenance of the existing Preservation Centre for an Interim Operational Period during the last two years of construction of the new preservation facility;
The reconfiguration and optimization of shelving in certain vaults contained within the existing Preservation Centre; and
The maintenance of the new preservation facility and the Preservation Centre for a 30-year Operational Period.