Rare Books Library

Boston, Massachusetts USA

Spatializing the diagrid to create a personal monumentality

Compared to the formal monumental public spaces of many 19th century libraries, contemporary libraries tend toward informal, intimate environments. OMA’s 2004 Seattle Public Library, however, seeks to revive the 19th C tradition. There the monumental spaces remain on a collective scale; individual spaces (reading carrels, computer workstations) have a monotonous, banal quality as they are defined by repetitive furniture systems that “stuff” collective spaces. The project seeks to reconcile this disjuncture between grand collective spaces and intimate individual spaces to create an individualized, rarified experience of these rarified books. 

Spatializing the diagrid to create a personal monumentality 

Personal monumentality merges two library paradigms: the monumental 19th C library and the intimate contemporary bookstore 

Spatializing the Seattle public library's superficial diagrid to order the plan and section 

Aggregation of diagrid module 

Urban strategy: Opening a congested urban site, creating a new visual axis 

View up from the public plaza 

Longitudinal section of through block public space with reading rooms above and book stacks/auditorium below 

Oblique geometries create forced perspectives 

Latitudinal section 

Ceiling detail 

Plan L5: Reading rooms 

Plan L4: Reading rooms and Offices 

Plan L3: Reading rooms and Public services 

Plan L2: Public services 

Plan L0: Public plaza 

Plan B1 Shop and Auditorium 

Plan B2 Book stacks 

Oblique views of oblique geometries