Step off Main Street, away from the hustle and bustle of the village streets, close the doors behind you and take a deep breath.
Just ahead, library stacks filled with books are arranged in neat rows, offering worlds of knowledge at your fingertips. Beyond the stacks great big windows stretching five metres high filter in the sunlight and outside the trees from Village Park reach up to the sky. In the distance the snow on the peaks of Rainbow, Sproatt and Wedge Mountains sparkle in the sun.
This is scene in the entrance of the Whistler Public Library, the new "educational heart of Whistler."
The design for the $7 million building will be on display at an open house on Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the current library, the small leaky trailers in the parking lot off of Main Street.
"I'm confident that we're heading the in the right direction (with this design)," said Municipal Parks Planner Martin Pardoe. "I really encourage the public to come to the open house and have a look at it."
At first glance, the design seems different than most Whistler buildings because of the relatively flat roof. Pardoe explained that the building didnt need dormers or gables like most of the village buildings because there is no second floor.
They also made a conscious decision to keep the library building low so as not to impact the views from surrounding buildings.
"We were very mindful of the fact of the investment that people have made in the buildings around this and we wanted to have a very low building that didnt impact on those views and was attractive to look at, so that led us to a flatter roof," said Pardoe.
In the winter the snow will stay on the flat roof, which will make the top of the building look like a big glacier.
On closer inspection, however, Pardoe said the building uses many of the same components found in other Whistler buildings, with wood accents and stone elements.
"We want it to look different from the rest of the buildings in the village because it is an institutional building, but we don't want it to look too different," he said.
The L-shaped building has been placed on the site with consideration for solar gain. The bulk of the building sits east-west on the site to minimize the amount of exposure to the strong western sun, which is a fundamental principle of green building practices.
The municipality wants to build a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building with a silver rating. Some of the other "green" features are a small planted roof and a rainwater collection system, which will use water for irrigation.
Inside the building there is a designated youth area, childrens area, reading room beside the fireplace as well as a multi-purpose room, which can be rented out and could provide a small revenue stream for the library.
If the design is approved, construction could begin in May 2005. It is crucial to get the roof on the building this year before the snow falls next season because construction costs are rising at a rate of $60,000 every month.
The design was developed in conjunction with municipal representatives and library representatives by the architect firm of Hughes Condon Marler Architects, the same company that designed the $10 million joint library/museum facility three years ago. That project was ultimately axed due to difficulties in fundraising.
The municipality will fully fund this building but staff is pursuing grant opportunities, among other things, to help offset the costs.