Visiting Gunārs Birkerts’s Latvian “Castle of Light”

, Riga

For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga’s new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia’s most historic urban settings, the library – locally known as the “Castle of Light” – challenges the city’s recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia’s rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, “14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries.” Wright’s exploration of this seminal building on Birkert’s œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe’s excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.

Architecture City Guide: Kansas City

This week our Architecture City Guide is headed Kansas City. With more boulevards than any other city except Paris, Kansas City is commonly called “Paris of the Plains.” Although its architecture might not rival Paris, there is plenty of great architecture, and as always it was difficult to keep our list to only 12 designs. Kansas City is also the headquarters of this year’s AIA National Firm Award, BNIM. Take a look at the list and add to it in the comment section below.

The Architecture City Guide: Kansas City list and corresponding map after the break.