So long, Sequoia

Jenny Seeman
So long, Sequoia

What has the same size and shape as a sequoia tree, and yet weighs nothing? Its shadow.

A shadow is all that is left after the removal of the large sequoia tree that stood at the east end of the library. The weight of the recent snowfall on the branches managed to snap the trunk at the point where it curved over the building. As a result, the bulk of the tree was left to lie forlornly on the roof of the library until it could be safely removed this week.

The tree was a popular stop for woodpeckers and other wildlife and its position helped integrate the library with the surrounding natural environment. This was an intentional part of the landscaping plan around the library when it was built. As described by the architect, R. F. Harrison of Vancouver, when the design for the new library won the Canadian Architect Yearbook Award in 1972: “The site of the new library is close to the Castle but is in a wooded area adjoining a small lake where it will be screened by natural growth and not compete as a visual focus with the Castle.” Comments from the judging panel highlighted how the building was “a solution sensitive to the site, uncomplicated by architectural acrobatics.”

Construction of the library began in September 1973 and was completed in October 1974. The cost of construction was $929,800, including the cost of the library stacks, and presumably, the seedling sequoia tree!

The architect’s early drawing of the siting and main floor plan for the library. The numbers represent:

  1. Main entrance 2. Audio visual 3. Faculty offices 4. Seminar rooms 5. Main stacks 6. Reading area 7. Librarian office 8. Work area 9. Microfilm room 10. Deck 

The library after completion in October 1974. The infant sequoia tree is on the left of the picture. Note the other plantings behind the men and the camellia next to the building.

The fallen sequoia. After 43 years, the camellia behind is still growing strong and healthy. Photo credit: Paul Allison

The absence of the sequoia tree isn’t the only change around the library. New windows are being installed giving the exterior and interior of the building a fresh face! If you have any questions about the history of buildings on campus, contact Jenny Seeman in the archives on ext. 4122.