Library and Archives Canada’s new $330 million preservation centre: a unique Canadian environmental project

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Plenary Properties Gatineau (PPG) consortium, which is responsible for constructing a second preservation centre in Gatineau, Quebec, has revealed the design of the building directly behind the current Preservation Centre.

Construction of the new preservation structure, optimization of the current Preservation Centre vaults, and project funding will cost approximately $330 million. This amount does not include the operating and maintenance costs of the two facilities over 30 years.

PPG Consortium members include Plenary Group, PCL and ENGIE Services.

The new preservation centre will be the first “net-zero carbon” facility dedicated to archival preservation in the Americas, and the first federal building constructed to the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy.

The building’s main features are:

  • minimal carbon emissions from energy consumption, achieved through building design and efficiency measures;
  • energy needs met through carbon-free fuel sources; and
  • minimal embodied carbon in building materials.

It will also be the world’s largest preservation facility equipped with a high-tech automated archive storage and retrieval system. This means that our precious national collections will be kept under optimal preservation conditions.

LAC says in a statement that the PPG proposal was selected for this public-private partnership because it meets all of the required technical criteria and can be implemented at the best possible cost to taxpayers. The consortium will:

  • design, build and finance the new building;
  • optimize storage space in the current Preservation Centre; and
  • operate and maintain both facilities.

The new structure will increase LAC’s capacity to store Canadian archives and resolve the critical shortage of space expected in the very near future. Construction will begin later this year and lead to the creation of hundreds of new jobs, with the opening expected in 2022.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Library and Archives Canada and to preserve the heritage of our country in what will be a state-of-the-art, iconic facility, and the first Net Zero Carbon archival centre in the Americas,”  Plenary Properties Gatineau project director Brian Clark said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our partners to deliver this project, and supporting the Government of Canada in its commitment to sustainable infrastructure and the preservation of our documented history.”

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