This project was awarded first prize in an invited competition for an
addition to th 757o1421h e Amerika Gedenk Bibliothek in Berlin and surrounding area. The
design extends the philosophical position of the open stack - the
unobstructed meeting of the reader and the book - by organizing the offerings
around a browsing circuit. The circuit is a public path looping the building,
presenting the collection of the entire library. The library stacks are
developed as furniture, giving different characteristics to areas of the open
plan. The concept of a browsing circuit is given memorable variety by these
different stack arrangements.
The circuit forms a slipped ring bracketing the original building. The
extension holds the original building in space without overpowering or
deferring to it. Proportions of all major architectural elements, including
interior and exterior spaces and structural grid, are determined by a single
series (1:1.618) based on the height of the existing building.
The importance of the site within the city plan is expressed by making the
library a major urban element, analogous to a city gate. The north face of
the library addition defines the south edge of the new Blucherplatz.
Additional buildings to the east and west, containing public programs,
complete the definition of space. A clearly defined public park to the east
and west strengthens the connection to the Holy Cross Church. The tower
offers a public observation point - a lens focused on the city - and supports
the children's library. Suspended over the original building, the library
elevates children to caretakers of the city. It has sloped floors for reading
while lying down. The structure is a lattice truss sheathed in sandblasted
glass with vision panels.
The main structure is an exposed concrete frame with glass curtain walls of
sandblasted white, amber and blue glass set off by areas of lead or
stainless-steel covered panels. Under the grey skies of Berlin, the effects
of east and west light in the library will be highly varied according to the
sandblasted lines and mullion patterns in the curtain walls. For the
interior, careful attention has been given to acoustics to assure silence,
while natural materials and subdued colors have been selected for their
contributions to a serene and reflective mood.