The New York Public Library has a plan to save millions of dollars, improve efficiency, and reverse the cutbacks that have been plaguing it. How? By sending little-used resources off-site (after all, most people use the library for its online resources these days), the Library will consolidate three libraries into one Mid-Manhattan branch, renovating the building with a streamlined, efficient design – courtesy of Foster + Partners - to create “the largest combined research and circulating library in the country.”
It sounds like a wonderful, modern solution. Ms. Ada Louise Huxtable would beg to differ.
The former New York Times architecture critic and current critic for the Wall Street Journal has come out swinging against the plan. First, she builds on the critique that others have made, that by moving volumes off-site (to New Jersey, or “Siberia, as she puts it) to make room for more modern amenities, the library will devalue its primary purpose (making resources readily accessible). To put it another way, as Scott Sherman did in his article for The Nation, it would turn the library into “a glorified internet café.” Then, Huxtable makes her own argument: that removing the current, intricate system of stacks would be an enormously complex, expensive, and hopelessly misguided structural challenge.
But, ultimately Ms. Huxtable’s argument comes down to the intrinsic architectural and cultural value of this Beaux Arts Masterpiece: “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.”
More on the Ms. Huxtable incendiary critique of The New York Public Library’s Central Plan, after the break…
The Internet is now the library of the past. Where the public library has historically served as the primary source of information gathering and dissemination, we now look to this new virtual, infinitely large library that can be accessed anywhere at any time as the Library of the present.
As a result, the primary roles of today’s physical libraries have shifted. Libraries of the past focused primarily on individualized information consumption. Communal aspects of interaction and information dissemination now represent the core mission of the library when information is more easily accessible. The silent grand beaux-arts reading rooms of New York or Boston have of the past been transformed into flexible communal “living rooms” in Seattle.
Architects: Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS Architects MNAL
Location: Oslo, Norway
Client: Oslo International School
Design Team: Einar Jarmund, Håkon Vigsnæs, Alessandra Kosberg, Siv Hofsøy, Anders Granli, Halvor Kloster, Katrine Skavlan, Nikolaj Zamecznik, Kazuhiko Yamada, Trine Johanne Jamtli
Landscape Architect: Grindaker AS
Consultants: AS Frederiksen (structure), Ingénia AS / Ing. Per Rasmussen AS / Heiberg & Tveter AS (Mechanical), NEAS Brannconsult AS (Fire), Norconsult AS (Acoustics)
Contractor: Oslo Byggentreprenør AS
Project Year: 2006-2009
New Structure Area: 3,900 sqm
Refurbishment Area: 3,300 sqm
Photographs: Ivan Brodey
Architects: Carlos Meza, Alejandro Piñol, Germán Ramírez, Miguel Torres
Location: Villanueva, Colombia
Collaborators: Andrés Rodríguez Cabra y Diana Pizano
Client: National Ministry of Culture, Casanare Government
Graphic design, logo & artwork: Santiago Piñol
Builder: UT Quimper: Ing. Camilo Blanco y Arq. Óscar Pontón
Project year: 2006
Site Area: 2,500 sqm
Constructed Area: 1,551 sqm
Photographs: Nicolás Cabrera, Alejandro Piñol
This is -by far- one of the most inspiring projects I know. And it´s not just the skin or the structure. It´s the new program relations, that make of this more than a mere library, but an enhaced public space around knowledge.
Architects: OMA + LMN
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Key Personnel: Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus (Partner-in-Charge), with Mark von Hof-Zogrotzki, Natasha Sandmeier, Meghan Corwin, Bjarke Ingels, Carol Patterson
Consultants: Arup, Bruce Mau Design, Davis Langdon, Dewhurst Macfarlane, Front, HKA, Hoffman Construction, Inside/Oustide, Jones & Jones, Kugler Tillotson, Magnusson Klemencic, McGuire, Michael Yantis, Pielow Fair, Quinze & Milan, Seele
Client: Seattle Public Library
Program: Central library for Seattle’s 28-branch library system, including 33,700 sqm of hq, reading room, book spiral, mixing chamber, meeting platform, living room, staff floor, children’s collection, and auditorium, and 4,600 sqm of parking.
Project year: 1999-2004
Constructed Area: 38,300 sqm
Budget: US $169.2 M
Photographs: Ramon Prat, Philippe Ruault, Iwan Baan, Fernando Herrera
Architects: Tétreault Parent Languedoc & Saia Barbarese Topouzanov
Location: Montreal, Canada
Project year: 1992-2006
Architect Team: Michel Languedoc (project architect), Mario Saia (director of design). Team members: Dino Barbarese, Vladimir Topouzanov, Trong Tuan Nguyen, Sylvain Bastien, Michel Beauchemin, Richard Beaudoin, Nicolas Bokobza, Patrick De Barros, Suzanne Essiambre, Naomi Frangos, Cathy Gagnon, David Griffin, Vivian Irschick, Laurence Kerr, Jean-Louis Léger, Pascal Lessard, Julie Marchand, Yvan Marion, Nadia Meratla. Marie-Eve Méthot, Annie Morrissette, Marc Pape, Louis-Guillaume Paquet, Marianne Potvin, Steve Proulx, Pascal Roffi, Véronique Roy, Annie-Claude Sauvé, Yvon Théoret, Sam Yip
Landscape: Claude Cormier architectes paysagistes inc.
General Contractor: Hervé Pomerleau inc.
Site Area: 5,000 sqm
Constructed Area: 63,215 sqm
Photographs: Marc Cramer, Nathalie St-Pierre, Ivanoh Demers, Michel Brunelle, Jean-François Vézina, Claude Duchaîne, Andrew Dobrowolskyj
Architect: Marsino Arquitectos Asociados
Location: Antofagasta, II región, Chile
Project Year: 2002
Construction Year: 2004
Collaborators: Diego Achurra, Alejandro Rojas D., Jaime Fuentes D., Paula Herrera, Arturo Steinberg, Gonzalo Días
Client: Universidad Catolia del Norte
Structural Engineer: Ivan Vladilo
Contractor: Empresa Constructora Villalobos – Convi S.A.
Lighting: Enzo Anziani
Landscape: Mauro Manetti
Site area: 331.696 sqm
Constructed Area: 4.261 sqm
Structure Materials: Concrete
Marsino Arquitectos designed the Central Library for the Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile. Several access points, circulations and gathering spaces result in a fluid space that fits with current educational methodologies.
The architectural container materializes the gathering in spaces to develop the social and collaborative role of contemporary libraries, distant from the old archive-like approach for libraries.
Its facade consolidates the institutional image of the University, that has been developed as a series of temporary constructions.
More pictures and plans after the break.
Architects: King Roselli Architetti
Client: Pontificial Lateran University
Location: Rome, Italy
Collaborators: Giandomenico Florio, Ulich Grosse, Christina Hoffmann, Arianna Nobile, Enrica Testi, Katia Scarioni, Toyohiko Yamaguchi
Project chief: Andrea Ricci
Building cost: 7m Euros
Interior Cost: 1m Euros
Project Start: 2004
Project Complete: 2006
Photographers: Santi Caleca (SC), José King (JK), King Roselli Architetti (KR)