Canadian Consulting Engineer


October 1, 2013
By Fast + Epp

Juror Comments:  

Juror Comments:  

“Forming a key element in the revitalization of the downtown core of Surrey, this visually attractive building incorporates
complex and innovative structural elements and sustainable features. The design and environmental friendliness of the building identify it as an outstanding example of public buildings of this genre.”


Surrey City Centre Library is

a contemporary and dynamic new public building in the city’s downtown core. The iconic building serves to revitalize the area and facilitates community interaction.

With its complex geometrical form and dramatically tilted concrete walls, the four-storey concrete and steel building required structural engineers at Fast + Epp to develop innovative solutions under a tight project schedule, together with Bing Thom Architects.

Sloped, tilted and curved walls

The four-storey, 85,000 sq. ft. concrete and steel facility has a dynamic, contemporary design. Its complex sculptural shapes are formed by cast-in-place concrete exterior cladding walls at the perimeter which are tilted at 10 degrees out-of-plane and 35 degrees in-plane. These tilted walls are tied back for gravity and seismic forces to an internal steel and concrete structure. The west concrete-cladding wall also curves dramatically to follow University Drive.

The sloped, tilted and curved exterior walls created challenges for the design of the clad system. After reviewing various systems, a cast-in-place concrete system was selected requiring careful design and detailing, particularly for the unusual combination of out-of-plane gravity and seismic forces. This required developing a special ductile connector. The unusual form of the exposed exterior walls also demanded special consideration for the concrete placement and rebar detailing. Being relatively thin, at 250-mm, they required the careful placement of control joints to minimize cracking.

Column-free atrium

The architect desired a four-storey column-free atrium space and shallow floor structures. Due to the large spans involved at the atrium roof and the third floor reading area, a steel structural system was necessary. These areas needed to be supported on tilted and sloped columns to closely match the exterior facade, along with a tilted upstand steel truss that needed to be hidden within a curving balustrade in the atrium.

The atrium’s complex steel structure was erected after the concrete cladding, with temporary bracing holding the cladding in place until it could be attached to the internal steel structure. This required the steel subtrade contractor to work to tight erection tolerances.

The pop-up central area of the atrium roof is an important feature that includes aesthetic, ventilation, daylighting, smoke exhaust and other design and coordination issues. The irregular plan shape of the roof area and the location of the pop-up in plan required the design of several large custom trusses to ensure an economic and efficient design. Due to the complex nature of this element and the tight design and construction schedule, it was tendered after the main steel structure was in the shop drawing stage.

Green features

The building has a large expanse of high-performance glazing that provides an interior space with maximum daylight to reduce the energy demand. Other features, including a green roof, LED lighting and locally-sourced materials, contribute to a building that meets Surrey’s Sustainability Charter for social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Construction in 15 months

The building had to be designed and constructed in only 15 months in order to meet a federal government stimulus funding program. Diligent project management, communication and coordination between team members was crucial, as construction of the foundations started before the building design was complete.

In the original scope of work the library did not include any underground parking, but the team was later instructed to add a basement which would become part of a future parkade that was still in the conceptual stage at the time.

The revitalization of Surrey’s downtown core has gained momentum as a result of the construction of this bold landmark, which was completed on time and economically in 2011. Future phases of Surrey’s revitalization involve the construction of a new city hall building and plaza, underground parking, a performing arts centre and a 52-storey mixed-use tower. cce

Project name:

Surrey City Centre Library, B.C.

Award-winning firm / structural engineer:

Fast + Epp (Gerald Epp, P.Eng.)


City of Surrey


Bing Thom Architects

Other key players:

AME Consulting
Group (mechanical); Applied
Engineering Solutions (electrical);
CitiWest (civil); Morrison Hershfield
(envelope); exp (geotechnical); LMDG (building code); Stuart Olson Dominion (general contractor); Solid Rock (steel
fabricating); Turnball (project manager); PFS Studio (landscape); LEC (quantity
surveying); Brown & Strachan
(acoustical); McElhanney Consulting
(surveyors), Bunt and Assoc. (traffic)



Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories