From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Stunning Library Architecture

MOST READ
Sohm looks at the color and how fine the mousse is — the fine streams of bubbles — a sign of great quality.

Wine and Spirits

How to Drink Grower Champagne

Legendary sommelier Aldo Sohm on rarer bubbles.

A Classic Martini

Wine and Spirits

A Classic Martini

A drink from New York City’s Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel

The Hoodie of the Future

Fashion

The Hoodie of the Future

British clothier Vollebak makes garments for today’s superhero.

Imposing pillared façades and Beaux-Arts ornamentation, such as at the New York Public Library or the Widener Library on Harvard University’s campus, might have dominated library design for the last century, but the buildings going up to house today’s stacks are elevating the form.

While making room for technological advancements and ever-growing collections, these establishments are also employing intelligent architectural design in fresh ways, like using perforated aluminum cladding (at City Library in Seinäjoki, Finland) or grid-like glass panels (at the Seattle Central Library). But even historic structures, such as the Bloor/Gladstone Branch Library in Toronto, get modern makeovers with the addition of new square footage and sustainable features like green roofs and permeable pavers.

Equally compelling are the evolving social constructs at the heart of the architecture’s organizing principle. The Villanueva Public Library in Colombia, for example, used a centuries-old method of construction that employs mesh-encased rocks and enlisted the help of community members to build the structure—for a total project budget of $1,250. And in many cases, the main stacks are arranged in spiraling or contiguous rows aimed at creating a more approachable user experience, leading naturally into broad, light-filled atriums that encourage interactive experiences.

Newsletter

Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.

Come On In

U.S. issued American Express Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members, enter the first six digits of your card number to access your complimentary subscription.

Learn about membership.