Private library / ERERAS Arquitectos

Architect: ERERAS Arquitectos / Eugenio Ramirez Ballagas, Ernesto Rodriguez Matos & Arnaldo Sanchez Nuñez
Location: San Juan,
Architects in Charge: Eugenio Ramirez & Ernesto Rodriguez
Collaborators: Alba Guzman, Edgardo Rivera
Structural Engineering: Hector Gonzalez, P.S.C.
Client: Mayra Santos Febres – puertorrican writer
Constructed Area: 139.3 sqm
Project year: 2008
Photographs: ERERAS

The library project for the puertorrican writer Mayra Santos Febres was conceptualized through three fundamental principles:


To design a piece of contemporary architecture on the roof of an Art deco building in the Condado area, is a task that must consider the balance between the new and existing structures and its visual impact from the street. In search of a subtle dialogue between these two structures, a linear terrace removed from the edge of the building on the frontal part of the roof is proposed. Using studies of pedestrian visual angles, stepped levels are implemented across the structure so as to minimize the visual impact from the street below.


In the same manner, a minimalist language of clean and contained lines is expressed, emphasizing the use of different materials, colors and textures applied to vertical planes. Among these different applications are:

  • Plastered and painted concrete
  • Exposed concrete (black plywood panel formwork)
  • Exposed concrete (butt joint siding formwork)
  • Tongue and groove siding doors
  • Glass panels
  • Aluminum louvered windows

The economy of resources played an important role in decision making during the design process. We advocate an architecture based on a creative endeavor that recognized and comes to terms with limitations that may arise within the construction industry of Puerto Rico, be it craftsmanship or resources. For instance, off the shelf materials and on site fabrication were used for wooden doors.


massing and materials diagram

The project was conceptualized using the image of an open box full of books capable of containing and protecting the writer’s book and art collection, as well as her work in progress. At the same time, becoming a workspace full of light and views of the urban landscape. The space is organized by two terraces (east and west), whose use fluctuate between the time of day and the shadows projected by the surrounding buildings and the new structure, and a contemplative interior patio that receives the north light. A connection between the interior and exterior is possible through two large wooden doors (each 9 feet wide) opening to the terraces, that line up frontally with the existing perpendicular street (Mirsonia St.), continues through our space and extends between two high rise buildings located on the rear lot. In the same manner, the terraces and their views are located as to create a direct dialogue with the few existing trees in the area, bringing as much vegetation as possible into the interior space. The box is lifted from the surface of the roof to maximize views seen from the interior, offering an experience of fluid space and light.

Cite: "Private library / ERERAS Arquitectos" 20 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Zuleika Hernández

    It is nice the way these architects have worked with the Art Deco existing building, and how both structures (old & new) complement and support themselves mutually. Love the lines, elegance and how the interior space opens to the exterior and how the latest is captured in the built space.

    • Juan Osorio

      Wow Zuleika, you know how to write in english. Mediocre building, mediocre pseudo architects.

  • tony

    the old building is nicer and lighter than the new structure
    I think they missed the opportunity to create a beautiful light object

  • Zuleika Hernandez

    It is light. You have to see it from the street. I’ve seen it with the wide wood doors open and that makes the structure to seem transparent and lighter. Also, at night it looks like it’s floating. They won the 2009 AIA Honor Award too.

  • kamran

    I think interior will damege the project.

  • Ofir

    The new addition is very elegant, and I love the selection of materials and colors. But… I think the combination with the original building doesn’t work here. It is very difficult to connect to a symmetrical building which is a complete form like they did in the art-deco.

  • cristobal

    odris where are you

  • Berg Lim

    It will be a nice project but alone, not as an addition to an existing building. It lacks any connection with the rest of the building and also it negates the tropicality of its location because it seems that the natural ventilation doesn’t work so well, the ceiling fan is horrible… The frontal door is well done. I should be more careful on the selection of images sent to archdaily… is this supposed to be a good detail?

    • ygogolak

      Ha, they put sealant in the corner and then stained over it. Problem is the stain on the wood faded faster than the stain on the sealant.

  • victor manuel

    me parece increible ver esa simple ampliacion bien maquillada
    me parece increible que discutan si es arquitectura o no es arquitectura

    me parece increible tambien

  • remwannabe

    Are you kidding? This looks like a “modernist” tumor growing out of an Art-Deco building. No one complained? If I were on the condo board I would’ve objected to the whole thing. It’s curious because it seems that the architects were rather sensible (material-wise) but this is just a somewhat fancy box planted onto another building.


    …Colegas, felicidades! (Mis fotos hubieran sido mejores pero las dejamos para el Pritzker :-). Saludos.

  • Carl

    I think this is really nice. It has ideal features for a library – nice and cool. I don’t see how an “unfancy” box would be better than a fancy box to be honest!? We can’t exactly go back to Art Deco architecture…

  • http://none Mari

    Quien Diseno esas puertas???
    Son identicas a las que disena y crea
    el constructor Ramon Ruiz Rosario.

  • Alexander

    They Kill the Deco

  • ygogolak

    If you’re going to call this a “library”, shouldn’t you at least have some pictures with shelving for books? otherwise it’s as ambiguous a space as any other box.

  • mahboobe

    Hi and tanks :-) from iran

  • luis

    It seems a conflict of interest the comment of Mrs. Zuleika because I understand that is married to one of the architects of this project.