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Cornish Library exterior
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Cornish Library Heritage Building Retrofit and New Addition

Project Description

Libary Addition

Designed by Public City Architecture, the reading room addition at the Cornish Library, located on the southwest façade, overlooks the bike path that connects commuters from Wolseley to Armstrong Point. While enhancing the the urban presence of the library, the renovations respectively maintain the historic charm that the library provides to the community.

Heritage Restoration

The library’s century-old bones got some carefully refinished oak panelling and generous coats of new burgundy paint on its original wainscotting to match archival photos unearthed by Heritage Winnipeg.

The children’s reading room was outfitted with new and concealed heating elements, recycled carpet tile and refinished original oak woodwork in the panels, columns and bookshelves. The scope of work included the addition of an all-glass extension. Wrapped in glass with floor-to-ceiling oak, and supported by a single heavy-duty concrete column, the space is designed for community events, extra reading room, and exhibits by local artists.

Exterior restorations included updating the outdoor faucet and dismantling an old fence. Dozens of new saplings were planted to line the patio and create a reading room in the forest, but left a clear sightline into the library’s public garden and the new reading nook within. Limestone slabs, sourced from quarries north of Winnipeg and weighing 3,500 pounds each, line the exterior of the addition to form a seating area.


On the accessibility front, CPI added a platform lift and a new, gradually sloping walkway to the existing entryway. A new entry hall, which doubles as a reading room, was added as well as building systems upgrades that meet new energy and accessibility codes. The scope of work also included adding a community plaza and a storm water retention garden. The addition includes an elevator, main stairs, a seating area, magazine racks and a standing work table.

Asbestos Abatement

Aspects that made this project a challenge included unexpected levels of asbestos in areas intended for construction. CPI collaborated closely with the abatement contractor to prepare a detailed Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) plan to ensure all safe work procedures are documented and followed for any hazardous material removal and mitigate all risks associated with these activities.

Built During COVID-19

Built during the COVID-19 pandemic, CPI worked closely with all stakeholders to form site-specific guidelines, and regular meetings between the project team and all stakeholders were held. Strict COVID-19 protocols were implemented at the onset of the pandemic and we worked with consultants and suppliers to find alternate materials and equipment to deal with supply chain issues.


Winnipeg’s Cornish Library gets an inviting makeover

Cornish Library restoration wins Heritage Winnipeg awards

Healing a Divide: Cornish Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Now open: newly renovated Cornish Library!

Lets Build Together!

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