The Athenaeum has just announced the winning proposals of the "Looking Forward: Re-imagining the Athenaeum of Philadelphia" competition. In celebration of its 200th anniversary, the independent library and museum issued a challenge to architects, designers, and artists to illustrate their visions for the "Athenaeum of the Future."
The competition's entries included 46 professional and 42 student proposals from 17 different countries, 15 US States, and 10 schools. Read on after the break to explore the award-winning designs.
Professional - First Place: Philadelphia Grotesque Revisited / Ryan Lohbauer, Petra Stanev, Elizabeth Keshet, Melissa Styer, Chun Wang of Stanev Potts Architects
Predicting Philadelphia’s future as a dynamic hub for technology and design, this proposal offers a vision towards professionals, students, and artists. Moving the archives into an underground vault, developing a public garden towards Washington Square, and housing library functions and rentable studio spaces within their own respective towers, the proposal creates a highly visible building, expanded to accommodate a diverse array of uses. Following the innovative architectural expression of Philadelphia from the era of the original Athenaeum’s construction, the new design seeks to become the literal “Ornament of Philadelphia.”
Professional - Second Place: Second Place: Out of Touch: An Archive for the Human Hand / Lulu Loquidis, Daniel Martinez of Fox in the Snow Studio
Working off the idea that by 2050, archives will be measured in megabytes, and that in the digital era “the real thing is often substituted by its duplicate,” this project seeks to carve out a tactile sanctuary for innate human needs. Focusing on the role of the human hand in design, the building is richly textured and sculpted along abstract contours of the human body.
Professional - Third Place: Third Place: Stay on the Ground: Let Your Mind Rise / Dániel Palotai
Based on the assumption that future libraries will face a multitude of local demands, requiring a connection between home and work, indoor and outdoor educational spaces, and a place for recreation and community projects, this project rearranges traditional library functions. The archives are vertically focused and managed by automated systems, while a public square at street level serves as a connection between the library, neighboring residences, and Washington Square Park. Finally, the multifunctional interior creates intimate reading spaces nestled in the ground.
Professional - Honorable Mention: Athenaeum 2050 / Kyuseon Hong of Ksharch Studio
This proposal focuses on the impact of site and adaptable innovations to crafting ideal reading conditions and environments. Complementing the solidity of its surrounding context, the building’s stone façade contrasts with open facades around the reading rooms, which work to create a visual dialogue with the city and Washington Square Park. The project features a stepped main reading space, energy efficient façade, skylight, 3D virtual architectural experience, automated book delivery system, and roof garden and deck.
Student - First Place: András Vernes of Technische Universität Wien
Building off the assumption that every aspect of life, in both public and private spaces, will be completely digitized by 2050, and that libraries will become easily accessed digital archives, this project sets the future Athenaeum as an antithesis to the predicted trend. Instead, the proposal offers a vision of the Athenaeum as disconnected from the digital system, with a stacked tower structure that gradually fades away from its surroundings.
Student - Second Place: DEceleration Sanctuary / Thalia Andreou, Valleria Galkina, Kyriako Neoptolemou, Michael Peppas, Chrysanthos Yiakubiv of University of Nicosia
This proposal follows the process of converting data from analog to digital, and morphs the Athenaeum from a conventional library into an instrument for data creation and storage. The project creates adaptable spaces by coding virtual data within the fabric of the building’s structure. Thus, the proposed building will continue to evolve along with the evolution of information.
Student - Third Place: Dematerialized Athenaeum: Creating Space for Collaboration / Emily Curato of The Catholic University of America
This project provides an informal setting for the public and members to collaborate and interact with the large archives of architecture, art, and literature of Philadelphia. Complementing the informality of the nearby Washington Square Park, the proposal dematerializes the building into interactive spaces that connect people via movement of information.
Student - Honorable Mention: Breaking the Barrier / Megan E. Ross
Following the belief that Philadelphia’s pride and ornament is in its original architecture, this proposal mimics the historic architectural style while spreading knowledge through technology, books, and drawings. Feeding off a public perception of mystery, the exterior façade appears very heavy, before the space dissolves into open and well-lit interiors.