This may sound nerdy, but my happiest moments in graduate school, outside of design studio, were in the architectural sections of any university library. I loved the smell of new and old books within tall stacks and the possibility of learning anything and everything within ones reach. If I chose, I could learn more about furniture of the 20th century, or research the technical aspects of curtain wall construction, learn about the new building by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects or see what new materials were being used with success in the building industry.
It was all there…
Now, the other part of this divine experience was finding the perfect spot to read my material. Once I happily gathered a stack of books specific to my subject, I would find an unoccupied library carrel or a small table, preferably near a window, with a hot chocolate and sit for hours reading, taking notes and cross-referencing information important (this was the time just before ipads, iphones, etc…).
It is no secret that the design of the most notable libraries have an architecture that inspires one to continue learning. The library and the individual library carrel are elements within this learning institution that focus on shifts in scale (macro of library, micro of library carrel) and causes an indirect interaction with the individual. Some of my seemingly favorite libraries (I say seemingly because I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting them) have certain elements that, well, I think are just awesome!
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University by SOM Library Macro: I have always loved the glowing 1 1/4″ thick marble panels in the rare books room of this library. The challenge was to allow enough light in without damaging the material. Beautiful and timeless solution…
The Phillips Exeter Academy Library in New Hampshire by Louis Kahn Library Micro: The Exeter Library has library carrels has a clear interior/exterior relationship. I could sit here for hours…(if only I had that time now!)
Laurentian Library by Michelangelo Library Macro/Micro: All libraries have elements of “big” and “small”, but I love the sculptural articulation of the vestibule and staircase followed by the symmetry of the reading room, capturing both intimate and expansive.
These spaces are on my bucket list…in the meantime, let me hear from you if you’ve been to these spaces or have others that are inspiring to you!