Vasconcelos Library / Alberto Kalach

© Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

Architects: Alberto Kalach
Location: DF,
Competition Team: , Gustavo Lipkau, Juan Palomar, Tonatiuh Martínez
Project Team: Alberto Kalach, Emmanuel Ramírez, Ignacio del Río, Tami Tamashiro, José Luis Reyes, Héctor Módica, Bolivar Garrido, Ivan Ramírez, Gabriel Ortiz, Roland Oberhofer, Paola Acevedo, Alejandro Castañeda
Botanical Garden: José Ma. Buendía, Carlos Murillo, Teobaldo Eguiluz, Jardín Botánico UNAM
Structural Engineering: Martínez Romero – EMRSA
Structural Design: Enrique Arriaga
Interior Design: Adriana León – TAX
Project Area: 38,091 sqm
Project Year: 2004-2007
Photographs: Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

© Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

The project integrates the public library with a botanical garden. A 250 meter steel, concrete and glass structure surrounded by greenery and water.

© Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

The design is based in four fundamental considerations :

  1. Mexico City is one of the largest, most polluted and agresive urban environments in the planet. We believe that the planning of public funded buildings should always encourage the expansion of car-free open spaces and greenery
  2. The specific area where the project was built was a barren urban landscape
  3. The buildings and gardens generate a new pole of urban ecological regeneration that expands over a densely populated area
  4. The library is itself an attempt at reorganizing available human knowledge
floor plan & sections

The Botanical Garden houses a comprehensive array of Mexicos endemic flora. Culture and nature, often on opposing sides, form a unity in which the visitor can reconcile their co-existence. The reading areas offer the user an opportunity for experimenting direct contact with nature. All areas profit from natural lighting and ventilation.

© Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

The library is a great ship that navigates through time enveloped in a garden that´s always itself and always new.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Vasconcelos Library / Alberto Kalach" 27 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • urbane.abuse

    Not unlike the Babel library by Borges. Do like!

  • tmmsa

    Loved this building when I visited a couple years ago. The drawings are an awesome inclusion but in my opinion the photos on Kalach’s site are much more interesting and revealing than the ones posted. One can find them here:

    • IBA

      Yes pictures are great but has to be added that Extreme wide angles and photoshop manipulation do wonders these days though rarely represent the building as it really is.

  • mvieto

    ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING. I’ve visited this building in two occasions, and it doesn’t cease to amaze me.

  • daniel

    for a building with a budget equal to bilbao’s guggenheim, it falls short on many aspects.

    • Alex G

      Indeed I´ve been there a couple of years ago, when was reopened, because has to be closed because of structural issues, and is a big white elephant, big and cold, not interesting at all.

  • R. Girardin

    Saw it in real too, really amaising : calm but wild, fine details, gigantic space effects…
    The only problem is : how to get the books when you suffer from vertigo…

    A friend of mine did shoot some great pictures:

  • internautas

    Astonishing… It is long time since I saw something like that…

  • Holcim Awards US

    This is wonderful. The fact they are addressing ecological restoration is incredibly inspiring. This is exactly the type of project that wins prizes at the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction.
    Entry form:

  • All

    Refreshing experience of a monster storehouse of knowledge. New approach to libraries.

  • tuga

    CONACULTA!!! thumbs up!

  • Mark

    I visited this building and I have to say it’s a very somber, the light is not designed for reading, also is very cool space, some will say “the freezer of books”. On the other hand is a total negation of the outside, there is a distinct culture and interesanyte about the negotiations completely.

    Kalach I think is a good architect, but on a smaller scale, as in large buildings do not work at all well.