Posts tagged with "Libraries":

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Snøhetta unveils further renders of Philly’s Temple University Library

At the start of the year, AN reported that Oslo and New York-based firm Snøhetta's library for Temple University Library had the potential to spell the end of books. This would be the firm's eleventh library, and while Snøhetta has opened a book-less library before in Toronto for Ryerson University, this design emphasizes transparency and openness as key themes. Evidenced in Snøhetta's latest renderings, a glass curtain wall wraps round the library's upper floors allowing light to fill the space. Snøhetta's nighttime render, however, finally shows people what the interior of these levels will encompass. In terms of its interiors, the 225,000-square-foot building appears to extensively make use of wood detailing in sweeping archways that form the main entrances and atrium. On the ground floor, wood is used as a balustrade to surround circular void, stairways and interior cladding. Despite advocating the use of an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) that allows the library to devote more square footage to “learning spaces” and less space to book stacks, space for some books can still be seen in Snøhetta's latest renderings. Located on the top floor, the books form part of a large study space that is bathed in daylight. The library is one part of a $300 million campus expansion plan that includes a to-be-built quadrangle, the public space at the heart of the campus’ new social and academic core. The library, which is the university's most expensive construction project to date, is due to be complete by 2018.
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Future uncertain for Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta

Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.

It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.

During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.

Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.

As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.

Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”

Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.

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Mecanoo triumphs in Tainan Public Library competition

Dutch firm Mecanoo Architecten has been awarded commission to go ahead with their design for a new public library in Tainan, Taiwan. The practice will work alongside Taiwanese firm MAYU Architects+ for the project that will occupy 376,736 square feet. Aside from being a library, the space will feature a children's area, public courtyard, cafe, conference hall, and a 200-seat auditorium. Within the library area itself will be specialized areas such as reading rooms, special collections, and study spaces. Mecanoo have established a strong pedigree when it comes to the library typology, with the well regarded Birmingham Library in the UK to their name along with another library scheme in the making in Manchester, also in the UK. Their design for the Tainan Public Library (its official title) aims to reflect the merging of cultures, generations, and histories within the site. A selection of natural materials including stone and wood consequently aims to attach the building to its locality. In addition, the city's history will be depicted by an ancient map of Tainan transposed onto vertical louvres. The structure, when taken at a glance, also resembles that of Corbusier's Villa Savoye, though on a bigger scale. Upon closer inspection, one can see the buildings perimeter expand at each level, supported by the stilts that follow the perimeter of the top floor. This system results in a canopy being able to offer shade all around the building, amplifying the threshold between the private interior and public exterior spaces. This schematic also effects the interior configuration too. The surrounding wooden fenestration filters sunlight entering the space, interacting and casting patterns on the stone floor. The building's aesthetic is primarily orthogonal, so a curvaceous staircase offers a nice counter, acting as an anchor and reference point for circulation. An open plan scheme allows for adaptation, and Mecanoo has also allocated 139,930 square feet for future expansion. The project is set to cost $44 million and is due to be open to the public at the close of 2018.
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Does Snøhetta’s design for a new library at Temple University spell the end of books?

Libraries are temples for books, though Snøhetta's plan for a new library at Temple University in Philadelphia argues that you can have one without the other. The design of the Temple University Library is influenced by the academies of ancient Greece, which privileged social spaces for discourse over the storage and management of written materials. It almost seems as if  the Oslo- and New York–based firm is pioneering a new typology within its own practice. In December 2015, Snøhetta unveiled its "library without books," also based on the Greek stoas and agoras, for Toronto's Ryerson University. Including Temple, Snøhetta has designed eleven libraries, both standalone and as part of larger programs. Although Ryerson's library was built first, Snøhetta has been in talks with Temple about a new library since 2013. The library's wooden arches mark entryways that slice into the rough stone facade. Steel mullions support pleated frameless glass windows, increasing transparency from the outside at the main entrances. Arches continue into the sweeping main lobby, where a three-story, domed atrium features an oculus that serves as a wayfinder by opening up the library's upper-floor functions visually to students in the main lobby. A cafe and a 24/7 study space on the ground floor round out the interior program. Classroom space extends outside, with stepped seating on the green roof and ground-floor plazas to encourage congregation. To manage Temple's two million-plus books, periodicals, DVDs, and other materials, the new library uses an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) that allows the library to devote more square footage to "learning spaces" and less space to the stacks. The video below shows an ASRS in action at Santa Clara University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez9Z7rHqk1Y The idea (ideal, to some) of libraries as musty repositories of hardcopy information is patently outdated. Librarians are quick to embrace their role not only as collection managers but as communication and content facilitators, whatever the medium. The impulse behind the design, however, recalls the failed 2012 Foster + Partners redesign the New York Public Library's main branch on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Plans called for removing seven floors of stacks under the Rose Main Reading Room to create a 300-person workspace. New York culture leaders widely criticized the plan for moving most of the library's books off-site, or underground. (Dutch firm Mecanoo was awarded the commission in September 2015.) Though the top floor at the Temple Library is programmed for a sunny reading room with stacks, books are explicitly not the design's focus. It's worth noting that around 1,800 years passed between the founding of Platonic Academy and the invention of the printing press. The ancient Greek academies privileged social space over materials management because there were far, far fewer books; information transmission today takes place primarily though image and text. Perhaps the invocation of the scholarly ancient Greeks softens the capitulation to a depressing reality: the 2010 Collegiate Learning Assessment found that one-third of college students read less than 40 pages per week for classes. The library is one part of a $300 million campus expansion plan that includes a to-be-built quadrangle, the public space at the heart of the campus' new social and academic core. Construction of the library should be complete by 2018.
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KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten to Design New Shenzhen Art Museum

German studio KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten was selected last month in an international competition to design the new Shenzhen Art Museum and Library complex. The winning scheme was chosen over submissions by world-renowned firms including OMA, Mecanoo and Steven Holl. The winning design consists of an art museum, a library and archive, and a public square known as the “Culture Plaza,” all encased within cubic glass structures. An approximately twenty foot high stone pedestal forms the basis for the museum, library, and plaza. In addition to the podium and the plaza, the museum roof and the uniform facade material of matte glass help accentuate the coherent character of the structure’s designed components. The new museum is marked by different-size spaces; it includes about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space extending over three levels. The library features a four-story reading room with nearly 1,000 desks and a large skylight, and the archive is located in the podium and on the basement levels. Set back terraces have a cascading effect and act as a wayfinding element, while at the same time affording an impressive view of the “Culture Plaza” and the city. According to the architects, the central idea of the design is to create a public place that promotes interaction between people and culture. The art museum represents just one of many high-profile architectural projects that are currently taking place in the city of Shenzhen. Skyscrapers designed by Morphosis Architects, NBBJ and RMJM are in the works. Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has also won a competition to design their second tower in the city, following the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building.
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Obama Foundation announces seven offices to submit proposals for presidential library

The Barack Obama Foundation has announced the seven offices from which it is requesting proposals for the design of the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago. The seven firms include four New York–based offices, one London-based office, one based in Genova, Italy, and one local Chicago office. The offices named are: Picked from over 150 firms who submitted to the Foundation’s request for qualifications issued in August, the seven firms will now be asked to present designs to the President in the first quarter of 2016. If Adjaye or Piano are chosen, they will be the first foreign-based offices to design a presidential library. The selection of the perspective architects comes after a long selection process for the site of the library itself. Not without some controversy, the South Side locations were chosen out of possible sites in New York, Hawaii, and another in Chicago. Public space advocates, Friends of the Parks, argued that the library, technically a private institution, should not be allowed to be built in the city’s public parks, an issue the current Lucas Museum is also dealing with. This was overcome with the help of a deal made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel which would transfer control of the land away from the park system. Each office will submit conceptual designs for both of the possible 20-acre South Side Chicago sites: one in Washington Park and one in Jackson Park. The $500 million project will include the presidential archive, a museum, and office space for the Obama Foundation. After reviewing the proposals, the Obama family and the foundation are expected to make a decision by summer 2016, the expected completion of the project being in 2020 or 2021.
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Snøhetta’s “library without books” encourages social learning at Toronto’s Ryerson University

The newest building on Toronto’s Ryerson University campus, the Snøhetta-designed Student Learning Centre, is a new expression of a very old idea: the ancient Greek gathering spaces of Stoas and Agoras. These inherently social learning spaces provided inspiration for the building’s eight storey design, which features unique spaces to meet, study, and exchange ideas. Snøhetta’s digital age design was conceived as a “library without books,” with the intention of encouraging students to not only interact with their physical environment, but to also make the space their own. Each floor offers a different kind of space with a distinct personality, influenced by themes found in nature and featuring names such as “The Beach,” “The Garden,” “The Sun,” and “The Sky.” The Student Centre features design elements that can be found in other Snøhetta-designed learning environments such as the Far Rockaway Library and Calgary’s New Central Library: triangular motifs, fritted color glass, and a combination of transparency and translucency. Having also redesigned Times Square’s public plazas, the international firm is well known for their ability to promote social interaction; the Student Centre’s entrance is featured on a south-facing raised platform that opens the street corner for a broad range of pedestrian activity, from larger gatherings to smaller individual seating areas. Described by the firm as “part plaza, part porch,” it is situated on one of Canada’s best-known commercial avenues, and serves as a new gateway to the Ryerson campus. A large canopy clad in iridescent, hand-folded metal panels stretches from the facade to the library, connecting the exterior and interior. Inside the lobby, a large atrium comprises informal seating areas, a cafe, and the University welcome desk. It was also designed to serve as a multi-purpose forum with “integrated seating and performance technology for events ranging from pep rallies to fashion shows and music performances." The exterior facade, composed of a varying pattern of digitally-printed fritted glass, wraps around an exposed concrete structure while controlling heat gain into the building, and framing views of the city grid from the interior, “acting as a traditional framed window without actual frame constructions.” In a press release, Snøhetta describes the frit as modulating the light quality to “range from ‘overcast’ to ‘partly cloudy’ to ‘sunny’ to further diversify the interior conditions and allow students to have a different experience every time they visit the building.” The building is LEED Silver compliant, with at least 50 percent of the roof being a dedicated green roof.
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Mecanoo Announced As Winner of New York Public Library Redesign [Updated]

The New York Public Library's Board of Trustees unanimously selected the Dutch firm Mecanoo to lead the renovation of the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the main branch at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street), as well as the Mid-Manhattan Library at 455 5th Avenue. Mecanoo's creative director and founding parter Francine Houben will lead the design team. New York's Beyer Blinder Belle will be the architect of record. Construction begins in late 2017 and is expected to run through 2019. After the Board of Trustees nixed Norman Foster's renovation scheme, the board invited 24 firms to submit proposals for the redesign in February 2013. 21 proposals were received, and the pool of contenders was winnowed down to eight, four and then two over four months, from June to September, 2015. Mecanoo was announced at the September 16th meeting of the NYPL's Board of Trustees. Mecanoo's plan for the main branch will include 42 percent more space for scholarly research and exhibitions. The Mid-Manhattan Library will receive a complete interior renovation to accommodate classrooms, a circulating library, and a business library.
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Read all about it: Obama Presidential Library reportedly headed for Chicago

The Associated Press has reported that Barack Obama's presidential library will be in his adopted hometown of Chicago. After months of speculation that the 44th President of the United States might site his legacy project in New York City—where he attended Columbia University—or his birth city of Honolulu, Hawaii, multiple unnamed sources cited by the AP and other publications say Obama and his nonprofit foundation have settled on Chicago, where he forged his political career. The University of Chicago, where Obama taught law, will host the library and museum. No architect has yet been named. The project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, likely spurring more development on Chicago's South Side. As the city from which Obama was first elected to public office and in 2008 first addressed the nation as its first African-American president-elect, Chicago was seen by many as an obvious choice. But in the long lead-up to the decision—made longer by the protracted race for Chicago mayor, which saw former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spend millions of dollars to fend off an unexpected political challenger from the left—sources close to the president's foundation had raised concerns about the proposals from several universities around the city. The University of Chicago's winning bid benefitted from having friends in high places. Emanuel led the charge in Chicago City Council to cede public park land to the private library project, successfully lobbying for the same assurance from the state legislature. That move remains controversial, however, and the design team selected to realize the president's legacy of public service will have to contend with opposition from open space advocates in Obama's own backyard.
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Maya Lin and Shepley Bulfinch selected to revamp Neilson Library at Smith College

Maya Lin and the national design firm Shepley Bulfinch have been tapped to reimagine Smith College's 106-year-old Neilson Library. The project, which is slated to break ground in 2017, is intended to create more space for the museum's growing collection and to truly transform it into a state-of-the-art institution. “Maya Lin’s celebrated work within the combined fields of architecture, art and landscape–coupled with Shepley Bulfinch’s extensive experience in creating 21st-century academic libraries–will create a new library that is not only functional but forward-looking,” said Smith College President Kathleen McCartney in a statement. “Maya Lin thinks of libraries as today’s temples–spaces for reflection, intellectual exploration, and discussion of ideas. I am confident that she and the design team will work in close partnership with the Smith community to create a library that will showcase our collections and enrich our community in ways we can only begin to imagine.”
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Berkeley designers propose building this pavilion entirely out of books, and you can help kickstart the project

Leaders of the Bay Area Book Festival (taking place June 5–7 in Berkeley) are teaming up with arts group Flux Foundation to make Lacuna, a wood-framed, yurt-like structure containing over 50,000 books, all donated by the Internet Archive. The "participatory" installation, designed with built in benches and alcoves, will have walls literally made out of stacks of books. Ceilings will be made of book pages attached to guy wires. lt will sit in Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park, creating what organizers call "a reflective space that offers contrast to—and respite from—the busy energy of the festival." In a digital world, this reminder of books' physicality, and the opportunity to read them and reshape the space, should be a major draw—especially as many bookstores still struggle to stay open. The project is still seeking funding. You can contribute to its Kickstarter campaign here.
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“Carousel of Light” Bookstore in Bucharest Occupies Breathtaking 19th-Century Bank Building

Forget, albeit momentarily, the speculated death of the print product. Romanian bookstore chain Carturesti has poured millions of dollars into the restoration of a 19th-century former bank building to house its second-largest retail outlet. Featuring a breathtaking high ceiling with a central skylight and dramatic byzantine marble colonnades, the Carturesti Carusel, which literally translates as “Carousel of Light” retails over 10,000 volumes and 5,000 albums and DVDs. Located on the famous Lipscani street in Bucharest’s Old Town, the old-world, nearly all-white edifice comprises 1,760 square feet of retail space and six floors accessible by curving staircases reminiscent of carousels. The main floor and basement contain an art gallery and media space for cultural events, while the top floor is occupied by a bistro. The serially repurposed building closed down in 1948 back when it was the Chrissoveloni Bank. It was then converted into a men’s clothing store and subsequently a department store, before being seized during the Romania’s Communist period. By 1990, the building was back in the hands of the illustrious banking family when it was recovered by its current owner Jean Chrissoveloni, who commissioned local architect Square One to execute its restoration. “We minimized the chromatic elements in order to make room for the play of lights and shadows generated by the central skylight,” a Square One architect told Curbed. “The sinuous shape of the floors creates a dynamic atmosphere similar to a moving carousel.”