In 1990, a referendum ballot addressed two questions to Vancouverites: was there a need for a new Central Library and for a new branch in the Renfrew/Collingwood community? Sixty-nine percent of the population favourably supported the building program.
In 1992 the winning submission of Moshe Safdie & Associates and local partners Downs/Archambault was announced by Vancouver City Council. It was by far the most radical design departure in comparison to other buildings in the city, and yet it was the public favourite.
The Library Square building project was the largest capital project ever undertaken by the City of Vancouver at the time, at an approximate cost of $107 million. It took 26 months to complete the project. The Central Library opened officially on May 26, 1995. In May, 2015 the VPL Central Library celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Library Square encompasses the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch, the Federal Office Tower, retail and service facilities located in the promenade. The public spaces surrounding the library form a continuous piazza, or public square.