Ahead of schedule and under budget are words that — unfortunately — are rarely heard. Nor are words the likes of spectacular, incredible, visionary. Our new 240,000-sq.-ft. Central Library is all of these. And more.
The new Central Library is the only Canadian building on Architectural Digest’s 2018 Most Anticipated Buildings in the World. The $245-million project is, beyond question, a breathtaking feat of engineering design and innovation. Architectural firm Snohetta partnered with Calgary-based Dialog to create the four-storey structure located at 800 3rd St. S.E.
Creating an opening gala to showcase the coolest thing to hit our city in decades would be no small feat. Not to be daunted, organizers took inspiration from the famed Met Gala in New York. The Lit Gala, as the event would be called, took the city by storm Nov. 2 and delivered on its promise of a high-energy experience ushering in the light of knowledge. Tickets at $750 a pop perhaps proved a little too steep for some, as it was hoped 1,000 guests would attend. Nonetheless, 680 guests donned their finest to attend the event with proceeds directed to a Spotlight Speaker Series providing Calgarians from all backgrounds and financial ability with free access to creative thinkers and fostering innovation and thought leadership in our city.
Highlights of the gala were numerous including: a performance from multi Juno-Award winning Calgary musicians Tegan and Sara; a riveting address from Craig Dykers, lead architect for the library and founding partner of the celebrated Snohetta architecture firm; a champagne toast delivered by Pat Moore, Library Foundation board chair and gala committee member; a Stomp Performance in the TD Great Reading Room; a performance from Decidedly Jazz in the Shaw Digital Entertainment Area; a reading from library CEO Bill Ptacek in the Stand and Command children’s area; remarks from Library Foundation president and CEO Ellen Humphrey; a performance from legendary trumpeter Jens Lindemann; and dancing until the wee hours in the Stuart Olson and Holt Renfrew sponsored main level.
Others in attendance at the fab fete included: Lit Gala committee co-chair Cynthia Moore; invaluable donors Mike and Linda Shaikh; community leader and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson with Debra Ross; Anthony, Joe, Britt and Marcela Giuffre; Ujal Thakor and his wife Sabina Shah; Dr. Robert Mitchell and his wife Helen; Andrea Brussa; Sagium’s Rick Green; invaluable donors Greig and Brenda Nicholls; Jane and Roxanne McCaig; architect Elaine Molinar; foundation board member Marshall Abbott; Stuart Olson president and CEO David LeMay and his wife Lisa Lemay with colleagues Paul and Laurie Polson, Michael and Siobhan McKenna, Baudouin and Anne Nizet, Gawiya Haymour and Glen Dane; NORR Architects’ Alex Klassen and Calgary Jewellery’s Jonathan Florence; Stand and Command’s Avnish Mehta, Jon Holden, Karin Poldaas, Quinton Rafuse and Amish Morjaria; foundation board member Carl Landry and his wife Candace Herman; Viewpoint’s Rob Van Wielingen and his wife Cat; Calgary Foundation’s Eva Friesen; Patti Pon, president of Calgary Arts Development; TD Canada Trust senior vice-president, prairie region, Robert Ghazal and his wife Claudia; Ian and Deirdre Harris; my terrific handler, library vice-president Brent Buechler; and others pictured on this two-page spread.
Kudos to all involved on the great success of the Lit Gala and heartfelt thanks to the visionaries who made the incredible new library a reality. You do our city proud.
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