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The idea (ideal, to some) of libraries as musty repositories of hardcopy information is patently outdated.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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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.
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:
- Adjaye Associates of London, headed by David Adjaye
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro
- SHoP Architects
- Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
- Renzo Piano Building Workshop
- John Ronan Architects
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Not to be outdone by proposals in Chicago and New York, Snøhetta and WCITARCHITECTURE have thrown their hats into the ring for the Obama Presidential Library, sketching a unique building in the President's home state of Hawaii. If selected, their Barack Obama Presidential Center, affiliated with the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, would take its cues from the forms of both a coral reef and the area's undulating topography. The building would curve around a central courtyard and emerge from the ground with a sloped, planted roof. According to Dawn Hirai, a spokesperson for the presidential center, the proposal is meant to be conceptual, providing the Obama Foundation "an 'idea' of what can be done on the ocean front site." Other ambitious concepts for the 8-acre, state-supplied site were created by Allied Works, MOS with Workshop-HI, and Ferraro Choi. An elevated public terrace of the Snøhetta and WCIT building would provide unobstructed views of the famous Point Panic surf break, the Honolulu skyline, and the crater-like Diamond Head State Monument, the island's most famous landmark. Lifting the building will provide space for an attached park, containing local fixtures like fish ponds, taro fields, and salt pans. Inside the building would contain exhibit spaces, meeting rooms, a restaurant, and facilities for affiliated organizations. According to ABC News, the Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the library competition, has accepted four final proposals. The president and first lady are expected to select the winning bid for the roughly $500 million project by March.
While speculation around the Barack Obama Presidential Library continues to swirl, plans for one of the project's four potential sites just became a bit clearer. The University of Chicago, where the President taught law, made public this week new renderings and details of their bid for the nation's 14th such library, trotting out sunny images that show the economic development potential of investment in the South Side areas surrounding Washington Park. The University of Chicago is among four finalists selected to vie for the library, whose governing nonprofit is expected to deliver a decision later this year. (Hawaii, New York City, and the University of Illinois Chicago also submitted proposals in December.) They proposed two sites, according to the Chicago Tribune: one in western Jackson Park, bounded by South Stony Island Avenue to the west, South Cornell Avenue to the east, East 60th Street to the north and East 63rd Street to the south; the other in western Washington Park and 11 acres outside of it, stretching as far west as South Prairie Avenue, and encompassing the Garfield Green Line stop. Both areas include land not owned by the University, which an anonymous source close to the deliberations previously told the Tribune could make the committee “hesitant to commit” to the plans. The sites each measure in excess of 20 acres, but only a fraction of that is slated for the library itself and accompanying structures. Nonetheless some open space advocates have accused the proposal of cannibalizing park land. Charles A. Birnbaum, president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post lamenting, “we still have to deal with retrograde thinking that views parks as dumping grounds and places to put 'stuff.'” Washington Park, which borders the University of Chicago's Hyde Park campus, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner, Calvert Vaux, the designers of New York City's Central Park. But Susan Sher, who is leading the the University of Chicago's library bid, told the Tribune's Melissa Harris it's common for such projects to include existing park space. “When you look at the possibilities and the criteria of having enough space for the legacy of a major historical figure, you can't just plop it in the middle of a shopping center,” she said. The University's hometown competitor, UIC, proposed a park that would bridge the Eisenhower Expressway, as well as economic development and community resources for underserved West Side areas. While UIC's proposal is more straightforward in its ownership, it also faces obstacles. Illinois' new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, is expected to appoint a new chancellor of the public university system, which could sow uncertainty about the institution's library plans. Despite the new images and site boundaries, plans for the hotly anticipated library project remain unclear. In addition to selecting a host institution, the library foundation committee will also need to hire an architect, who will ultimately decide on the library's form and exact location. The plans newly made public by the University of Chicago are scant on details for that reason, although they do allude to an "education corridor" along 63rd Street, and a "cultural ribbon" that would connect Washington Park with a "renewed Jackson Park."
Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans' challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. "The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community," said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library's environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage. The decision to entirely enclose the old building within the addition was a critical component of the architects' sustainability strategy. "It allowed us to come up with a continuous facade utilizing a continuous insulation system," explained Zaudke. "It helped a lot with energy performance." Gould Evans chose a terra cotta rain screen from NBK to better tie the library to its surroundings. The building is located in an interstitial zone, immediately adjacent to buildings constructed in the 1950s but not far from Lawrence's thriving historic downtown. "We selected terra cotta because it could play by both sets of rules," said Zaudke. "It has an historic connotation, but it's also a much more modern-looking material." Daylighting was another of the architects' key concerns. "Because there were so few windows in the old library, wherever you went there was a sort of phototropic behavior," said Zaudke. "People just gathered around the windows. The rest was not as utilized." Gould Evans significantly altered the user experience by creating an open reading room within the wraparound addition, all of which is exposed to daylight. Other library functions are contained within the core, which in turn is lit both by a continuous clerestory and a series of Solatubes. The clerestory also prevents glare within the reading room by illuminating the inside of the facade. Gould Evans used prescriptive data to determine the overall balance of terra cotta to glass on the new facade—about 60/40—as well as on each exterior wall. To reduce thermal gain on the east and west faces, the architects placed terra cotta baguettes over each horizontal slit window. Together, the baguettes and the depth of the wall act as sunshades. As for Lawrence Public Library's old concrete facade, "we didn't want to just pretend it wasn't there," said Zaudke. Instead, Gould Evans partially overlaid it with a tongue-in-groove system of unstained wood. "The concrete had a harsh feel to it," explained Zaudke. "By wrapping it with wood and revealing it in places, there's this nice dialog that occurs. Everywhere it opens up is where some core function reveals itself—it's an interesting dynamic." At the library entrance, the architects brought the wood outside, encased in glass to protect it from the elements, said Zaudke. "That vocabulary of cracking open the library, of making it accessible, is present at the entry."