The new John Muir Branch of the Windsor Public Library has received a 2021 Ontario Library Association (OLA) Library Building Award. The branch won the prestigious award in the library architectural and design transformation category, which recognizes additions, renovations, restorations and conversions to library use across Ontario.
“The Muir project and resulting awards demonstrate that we ‘got it right’ and that the library is a community treasure to which our customers – of all ages – will return to, again and again,” says WPL Board Chair, Councillor Rino Bortolin. “The John Muir Branch is an iconic state-of-the art facility and a popular Sandwich destination for the whole family.”
“Converting a 1921 fire hall and a stable dating back to the mid-19th century into a 21st century public library takes courage and conviction,” says CEO Kitty Pope. “With support from Mayor Dilkens and City Council, the Windsor Public Library Board, the Muir family and all library staff – we made it happen. It’s a spectacular example of innovative planning and construction.”
The $5.5 million, 7,400 square foot John Muir Branch (363 Mill Street) is comprised of two heritage-designated buildings constructed in a manner that speaks to their past while looking toward present and future library use. Located in the heart of Windsor’s historic Sandwich neighbourhood, it highlights reclaimed materials and historic construction techniques as well as contemporary library technology. Notable features include a glass-capped observation tower, a suspended bridge made from reclaimed wood found on site and a flexible performance space available for use by local groups and organizations.
After extensive planning, groundbreaking took place in January 2018. The library opened to the public in September 2019 marking the end of a 4-year journey.
For more information on the Muir Project, a recently published book, New Libraries in Old Buildings, contains a chapter written by WPL Librarian, Rebekah Mayer. The chapter details the project from the drawing board through to the gala opening.
WPL CEO Kitty Pope and Architect Jason Grossi participated in the virtual award presentation at the OLA Annual Institute on the Library as Place on July 14.