The Kitchener Public Library is building a new library in southwest Kitchener. As a part of this expansion, we’re looking for expressions of interest to create a public art commission for the new facility.

On this page:

  1. Project background
  2. Public art location options and site considerations
  3. Selection process
  4. Compensation
  5. Eligibility and submission requirements
  6. Selection and construction schedule
  7. Application
  8. Reference materials

Project background

We invite artists or artist teams to submit a proposal to be considered by a jury in the Kitchener Public Library's Southwest Library Public Art Competition. This is the first stage in a two-stage competition.

This call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) is open to established artists or artist teams with experience creating public art projects. The selection team will give preference to submissions from artists or teams with Indigenous, immigrant or other equity-deserving backgrounds.

The process prioritizes Indigenous applicants out of respect for the 1784 Haldimand Tract treaty and the archeological discovery of a Late Woodland Iroquoian longhouse community that precedes European contact near the new library site. The process prioritizes immigrant applicants because census data indicates about one-third of southwest Kitchener residents as immigrants or people whose first language is not English or French.  

In support of Kitchener Public Library’s significant efforts to create inclusive spaces, proposals from artists or teams in other equity-deserving groups can also self-identify, including racial minorities, women, LGBTQ2S+, people living with disabilities, senior citizens or unhoused people, in addition to newcomers or First Nations, Inuit or Metis. 

There is space for much broader representation of artists in our public art collection.

Our public art program

In supporting public art initiatives, we recognize that public, accessible art makes Kitchener a lively and engaging city. The public art program is funded through a percent-for-art mechanism (1%) which produces artworks specific to civic facilities and prominent public places. Our objectives for this program are to support communities, culture and artists, to represent a diverse community, and to improve the quality of life for all residents through:

  • the integration of public art in prominent public spaces as well as in neighbourhoods
  • facilitating a fair and informed public art process
  • supporting public art design standards that prioritize high quality, sustainability, inclusivity, placekeeping and community interactivity

The Kitchener Public Library (KPL) Southwest Library construction project is eligible for a public artwork through our public art policy. An open competition is our standard mechanism to commission an artist or artist team to create site-specific artwork. The competition is publicly promoted and the invitation to submit proposals is open for 100 days, starting on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

City staff will host an information session at KPL's Central Library about the project on Thursday, November 17, 2022, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Register online

Please send us an email or call 519-741-2200, ext. 7424 if you have any questions about this project.

Kitchener Public Library's Southwest Library Capital Project

The Kitchener Public Library Board identified the need for a new facility to meet the southwest Kitchener community’s increasing demand for library space, resources and services in 2000. Since 2006, our capital forecast has included a new southwest location to serve a growing population in the area that could reach 25,000 residents and more than 10,000 new residential units by 2040. Our 2020 capital budget and 10-year forecast confirmed development charge funding to be allocated in 2019-2024.

This $10.1 million project will see a new community library built in the new residential area referred to as Rosenberg. The community library will be a key element of a multi-use community campus with parks, trails and other amenities. The concept design developed by mcCallumSather proposes a 14,000-square-foot single-story building with natural light connecting open gathering areas and flexible program spaces. The building frontage will be on Rosenberg Way, and the facility will connect to nearby bike and pedestrian paths and natural features.

Birds-eye view of Southwest Community Library landscape design & facility site, including green roof & solar panel areas on roof; bike racks, vehicle parking & charging, seating, gardening & grassed areas; geothermal field & bioswale design; other natural features of the landscape design such as trees & shrubs.

Library staff envision a welcoming, inspiring space for people who visit for quiet reprieve or to gather and collaborate. The new community library will offer resources, programs and spaces for artistic expression through music, writing, culinary arts or digital design.

It will be a:

  • place for children to gather, grow and play
  • caring and supportive environment to practice social skills, improve literacy and learn nutrition through hands-on cooking
  • place where neighbourhood connections and identities develop
  • place where people engage in lifelong learning in innovative ways
  • place where everyone belongs

In 2019, KPL conducted a Kitchener-wide community engagement strategy to inform its strategic priorities, including a survey, stakeholder labs and pop-up engagement sessions. In a 2020 survey of southwest Kitchener residents, nearly 75% of more than 1,200 respondents indicated that the new community library would become their home library. While those residents want to use the library to borrow books and as a study space, they also want access to technology, digital tools, cultural programming and a strong focus on early learning and literacy. They also indicate the building design should be a welcoming, naturally lit space that promotes inclusion and incorporates sustainable principles.

Birds-eye view of Southwest Community Library building, indicating reading lounge, entry lobby & vestibules, book stacks for adult, teen & childrens’ collections, washrooms, outdoor patio, programming spaces such as kitchen, creation centre & study spaces, plus staff offices, sorting area & building systems access rooms.

The design goal is a “Net Zero” energy-efficient building, whose features will include photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal technology. The Southwest Library will be one of the first public libraries in Canada with a Net Zero designation.

Find more information on KPL's website.

Public art location options and site considerations

Our goal is to collect artwork commissions that are responsive to the spaces in which they are located and to the public uses of those spaces. The Southwest Community Library building design will feature slatted wood ceilings, natural- or neutral-palate exterior and interior walls, and a green roof.

Architectural rendering of the Southwest Community Library exterior under an early evening sky with views of the covered canopy & parking lot, grassed areas & gardens, seating areas & walkways, a partial side-view of the main entry, plus part of the lit building interior design through windows showing the main reading lounge & book stacks, with a few people occupying small areas outside & inside the facility.

One potential identified location for a public art installation is the planned bulkhead (53.18’ long by 8.06’ tall) below a series of elevated windows in the new community library’s main programming area. The room will be tall, wide (59.73’ x 28.4’) and open concept, visually connected to both the entryway and main exterior programming area and flooded by natural light from continuously glazed windows facing to the southwest. This highly visible interior area is intended to serve as a welcoming gathering spot, reading lounge and program and event space.

Architectural rendering of the Southwest Community Library interior showing the main reading lounge, books stacks, seating areas & workspaces, light fixtures, ceiling cladding & beams, a large bulkhead, plus partial views of the building exterior through windows, with a few people using various areas inside the facility.

The framing in this location will be 6” steel studs, but more plywood blocking could be added between studs to install or mount an object. Any special requirements would need to be reviewed by a structural engineer.

Architectural rendering of the Southwest Community Library exterior under midday sky with views of the main entry way & adjoining gardens, plus part of the lit interior design through windows showing books shelves as well as seating areas & workspaces, with a few people using the facilty interior & a pair of people approaching the entrance outside.

The main entry area to the new facility from Rosenberg Way presents another location opportunity. This triangular-shaped area is enclosed by continuously glazed windows on two sides, with an exterior curtain wall to the south (15.58’ wide) and vestibule glass to the east (12.27’). An artwork or series of artworks could potentially be mounted and suspended from the ceiling in this location.

Architectural rendering of the Southwest Community Library interior showing the main entry vestibule and adjoining windowed areas, with partial views of the building exterior on a cloudy day.

Given the nature of the library environment, works powered by or incorporating motors are not acceptable for either install location.

Visibility of the public art installation from both interior and exterior areas of the new community library is an important consideration, informing both location options above.

Land acknowledgement and Indigenous archeology

Kitchener is located on the traditional territory of Chonnonton (aka Attawandaron or Neutral), Anishinabek (Mississauga peoples) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) peoples. The Haldimand Tract, an area that includes six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source, was promised to Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora) and other Aboriginal allies in 1784 as compensation for their loss of land during the American Revolution. Before the 1780s, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek people shared this area for fishing, hunting, trapping and living, adhering to a philosophy known as the “Dish with One Spoon” treaty. Before the destruction and dispersal of their nation by the 1650s, the Chonnonton or “keepers of the deer” numbered about 40,000 people.

The Rosenberg community and the new Southwest Community Library site are located on the Haldimand Tract. An archeological site was uncovered during the nearby reconstruction of Fischer-Hallman Road south of Bleams Road in 2020 that has yielded more than 50,000 Indigenous artifacts, which provide evidence of a Late Woodland Iroquoian longhouse village used in the 1300s to 1600s, plus indications of prior habitation and use for thousands of years. The village covered an area of up to two hectares and artifacts indicate farming of corn and beans, fishing and hunting, cooking in decorated ceramic pots over hearths, and use of tools including pipes, arrows, knives, drills and jewelry.

Completion of a Stage 4 Archeological Assessment concluded that no significant artifacts were detected on the planned library site.

Kitchener continues to be the home of a variety of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples from across Turtle Island. The treaty people who live in this area include Indigenous peoples, new immigrants and immigrants from past generations including those brought here involuntarily during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and settlers.

Other site considerations

Public safety is a priority in the acquisition of artworks for our collection. We prefer artworks that are sustainable, durable, non-corrosive in nature and require low maintenance. In addition, a core purpose of installing a public artwork in this location is to support the creation and offering of an accessible, welcoming and equity-affirming space that can be enjoyed by people from any cultural background, ethnicity, class or social disposition.

Proposals should also align with these characteristics:

  • artwork content creates an environment in which persons of all ages and backgrounds can feel like they belong and are valued, no matter the context or timing of their sharing or using the space, and in which each person has an opportunity to participate fully in creating success and is valued for their distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives
  • artwork is compatible with the context and role of a public library, in this case, one that is committed to an inclusive and diverse framework in which behaviours and actions reflect the values of trust, mutual respect and dignity for all individuals

City staff review and site support requirements

We will conduct a technical review of eligible proposals before jury review.

In addition, before city council approval and signing of a contract commissioning a public artwork for KPL’s Southwest Library, the selected artist or team will be required to demonstrate to our review staff that technical requirements can be accomplished in the final production of the artwork, its fabrication(s) and installation. Selected artists or teams will be supported during this process by our project coordinator, but if these requirements cannot be met to the satisfaction of technical reviewers, no commission will proceed.

At our discretion, the selected artist(s) must provide detailed design drawings of the artwork sealed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in Canada. This may include detailed design and engineering for all anchoring or other installation requirements. With our consultants, we will review all engineered installation details to ensure compatibility with the site. The selected artist or team will work with the consultants to coordinate their work with the design intent and to generate all sealed drawings required by our team.

The installation will be implemented with support from our staff. The artist or team will provide consultation during the installation process. Contracting and completion of the installation will be completed by an approved contractor.

Selection process

The creation of public art for KPL’s Southwest Library will be achieved through a two-stage competition administered by the City of Kitchener:

  • stage one
    • call for expressions of interest from artists or artist teams
    • the jury selects qualified artists or teams who are invited to continue to stage two
  • stage two
    • short-listed artists or teams must prepare detailed concept drawings and/or maquettes, accompanied by textual descriptions, and present their work to the jury
    • artists will be paid for this work

The jury’s recommendation will proceed to our Public Art Working Group, our Arts and Culture Advisory Committee and the Kitchener Public Library Board for support before being reported to Kitchener Council for final approval.

Once approved, we will prepare a contract with the artist or artist team. The artist or artist team must carry third-person liability insurance for two million dollars and, if applicable, provide us with a GST/HST registration number.

The selected artist or team will work with the architectural consultant team and selected construction team to achieve a successful public art installation.

We reserve the right to end the competition at any stage. In such a case, we will notify the artist(s) who have submitted proposals as necessary.

Jury composition

A public art jury ensures a fair process through balanced participation and discussion of all eligible submissions. The jury’s responsibility is to assess submissions and select based on artistic merit, project practicality and other identified criteria. The jury will be assembled by our staff to include the following participants:

  • one member of our Public Art Working Group
  • one ward councillor
  • two visual arts professionals
  • the Kitchener Public Library CEO or designate
  • one representative of the project architect
  • two representatives of Indigenous nations
  • two citizens at large

Jury evaluation criteria

Jury members will independently evaluate the EOI submissions received from artists or teams against the criteria outlined below using a three-colour rating system (green for yes, yellow for maybe, red for no) and other rating inputs (including jurist commentary). Proposals identified as preferred potential options by that initial evaluation will then be discussed in further detail by jury members at a meeting designed to determine the most suitable, practical, intriguing and enduring proposals. Up to three proposals rated highest by the jury will advance to stage two.

Evaluation categories include:

  • artist or team qualifications and ability to produce high-quality artworks
  • artist or team capacity to successfully complete and install their proposal
  • the artistic merit of the proposed concept to enhance or activate public space
  • consideration of artist's or team's self-identification as equity-deserving
  • capacity of artist or team to collaborate with project design professionals
  • relevance of the proposed artwork to the EOI, facility and local culture
  • appropriateness of the scale, visibility and/or presence of the artwork
  • appropriateness of proposal to the budget, scope and timelines available
  • suitability and sustainability of material and maintenance requirements
  • general technical feasibility (durability, assembly, safety, accessibility)

The jury may find that none of the submissions fulfill the project criteria. In this case, we may re-open the selection process.


The commission fee available to the selected artist does not include costs related to jury participation or meetings, EOI marketing or artwork unveiling.

The commission fee for KPL’s Southwest Library’s Public Art Competition is $65,000 (Canadian dollars). This amount must cover:

  • artist’s or team’s design or production fees
  • insurance and legal fees
  • materials costs
  • studio and storage costs
  • fabrication
  • transportation of the artwork to the site
  • installation costs
  • subcontractors’ fees (example: structural engineering services for the fabrication of the artwork)
  • documentation (photography of work-in-progress, of finished work, material specification sheets, maintenance schedule)
  • artist or team travel expenses

Our staff will support the logistics of the installation. The artist will provide consultation to our staff during the installation process.

Second stage reimbursements for detailed proposals

Artwork proposals that are short-listed by the jury for more detailed development and consideration (up to three artists or teams) are eligible for a second-stage fee of $850 (Canadian dollars) per selected artist or team. This fee aims to cover preparation materials and any time required to further develop and present an idea.

Eligibility and submission requirements

The competition is open to artists or artist teams with experience in creating site-responsive public art projects.

The winning artist or artist team must carry liability insurance for two million dollars, be prepared to enter into a legal agreement with the City of Kitchener and, if applicable, have a GST/HST registration number.

Artists that are currently under contract to produce another public art project for the City of Kitchener are ineligible until the current contract is completed. In exceptional cases, we may waive this condition for an artist or team.

Submission requirements for stage one EOI

To be eligible for stage one consideration by the jury, submissions must include:

  • letter of interest (maximum two pages) highlighting your qualifications, relevant experience and describing your intended approach to this public art project opportunity
  • summary of credentials relevant to the project or a Curriculum Vitae
  • a preliminary estimated budget to produce the proposed idea
  • current contact information (email and phone, plus website if applicable)
  • no more than 10 high-resolution image files (jpg, pdf, video) that illustrate past public art projects. If possible, use a PowerPoint presentation format and include information for each image (title, size, medium, location, year created)
  • if you do not use a PowerPoint presentation or another method of titling image files, please provide a list of details describing the submitted image files
  • two letters of reference from past public art projects or other sponsors
  • please use the online submission form to apply if possible, but if not, please submit 12 unbound copies of your package (page size 8 ½” x 11”)

Selection and construction schedule

Detailed designs of the planned Southwest Library facility have been completed and KPL staff will facilitate a request for proposals process to award construction contracts. Construction should be underway in 2023 and the interior detailing and installation timing will be decided based on the start and duration of its initial phase(s). Community library completion and opening are to be determined.

The public art selection process will proceed as follows:

  • Thursday, October 13, 2022: open call for Expressions of Interest released
  • Thursday, November 17, 2022: KPL's Southwest Library Public Art Competition info session to be held at KPL Central Library
  • Friday, January 20, 2023: deadline for receipt of submissions to the Expressions of Interest open call
  • February 2023: selection of artists or teams to participate in stage two of the KPL's Southwest Library public art competition
  • March 2023: deadline for receipt of detailed proposals from stage two artists or artist teams
  • March/April 2023: stage two artist presentations to the selection jury
  • April/May 2023: expected selection of preferred artist or artist team
  • June/July 2023: presentation of the selected artist(s) to the Public Art Working Group, Arts and Culture Advisory Committee and KPL Board for approval
  • September 2023: report to city council prepared to award public art commission
  • October/November 2023: legal agreement prepared for selected artist(s) by City of Kitchener solicitor


Applications for this EOI are due at 5 p.m. on Friday, January 20, 2023. We will not consider incomplete or late submissions.

You can apply:

If you have any questions, please send us an email or call 519-741-2200, ext. 7424.


To apply online, please complete our application form.

Apply online

By delivery or mail

To apply by delivery or mail, please submit 12 unbound copies of your package (page size 8 ½” x 11”) before the final deadline to:

Kitchener Public Library (Southwest Library) Public Art Competition
c/o Economic Development, 6th floor, City Hall
200 King Street West
Kitchener, ON
N2G 4G7
Attention: Eric Rumble, arts and creative industries coordinator

We are not responsible for damage to, or loss of, support materials.

Reference materials

You can use the reference materials listed below to help develop your submission: