How do we get a good library design?

Evaluating Brian MacKay-Lyons charge that the city is screwing up the selection process for the new Halifax library

Is the new Halifax library going to be an interesting and compelling addition to the city fabric, or will it be a designed-by-committee dud? And how, exactly, to you get a good public building?

Those questions came front and centre when architect Brian MacKay-Lyons went on CBC’s Information Morning to blast the city’s selection process for an architect for the library. He was followed on subsequent shows by Phil Townsend, HRM’s director of infrastructure and asset management, by Paul Frank of JDA Architects, a firm still in the running for the library contract, and by myself.

I have also independently interviewed MacKay-Lyons and Townsend, as well as other city staffers who were on the selection committee and otherwise involved in the process. I’ve also reviewed the documents (linked to, below) and looked at a number of buildings in Halifax built by various architecture firms under consideration.

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