Snøhetta gives Philly a Silicon Valley style library

This Philadelphia university's glass, stone and timber building majors on break-out spaces, not book stacks
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Temple University Library by Snøhetta
Temple University Library by Snøhetta

Construction is underway on the research library for Temple University in North Philadelphia, which features “a diversity of spaces that will spark chance encounters, enable collaboration, and encourage knowledge-sharing amongst its users”, according to the international architecture practice behind the project, Snøhetta.

Like any recently designed workplace for any number of tech companies (Google, Airbnb, and the swankier co-working set-ups), it provides clever zoning. When they’re not poring over a book in a study space or in the reading room on the top floor, Temple’s 37,800 students can flit between multiple resource centres, an event hall, lobby, café, the "reading nook" off to one side of a stairway, or the roof garden.

 

Temple University Library by Snøhetta
Temple University Library by Snøhetta

The 225,000 square-feet space can be allocated in this generous way because of an automated book retrieval system, meaning most of the University’s two million or more tomes are tucked away out of sight. 

This shift in priorities is nothing new, the architects claim. “The design is inspired by the historic academies of Greek antiquity, where social spaces for exchanging ideas were primary and storage of written content took a secondary role.”

 

Temple University Library by Snøhetta
Temple University Library by Snøhetta
 

Once they have navigated the great wooden arched entrances, visitors and users will be able to orientate themselves in the three-storey domed atrium lobby. According to Snøhetta: “An oculus carved into the lobby’s domed atrium opens up views to each corner of the building, serving as a wayfinding anchor and placing the user at the centre of the library’s activity.”

Due to complete in 2018, this is the latest in a string of libraries by Snøhetta, their Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the Egyptian city of Alexandria being one of the most well known.

 

Temple University Library by Snøhetta
Temple University Library by Snøhetta
 

For more on contemporary architecture on a smaller scale, consider our new book Nanotecture, or take a closer look at our wide variety of architectural titles here.


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