Exploring the Book Through Layers of Public Space

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Virginia Tech


In today's society, awash with digital media, the physical book should still be treated as a valuable object. It is a symbol of knowledge and, in the same way that the stones of historic buildings tell the story of their times, the physical book carries the truths of the past to each new generation, not only by the words it contains, but in how it is bound and set and worn. The library rises around the book, offering shelves that may be explored, allowing people to discover as they browse. The neighborhood library serves as an anchor for the community; without physical books, the library is gutted of its essential purpose, becoming merely a community gathering place.

Members of the community must be given space to move through the books as they progress from the public realm of the street into the semi-public space of a library reading room, and perhaps beyond to their private places of study. Each stage of their journey should be a clearly defined 'place' with its own purpose and potential. At the same time, the spatial boundaries in this progression must be integrated in order to invite people to move from one to another, to discover the books and the knowledge contained within. My thesis project has explored and developed these theoretical ideas into a library and housing project for Washington, DC's West End neighborhood.



Book Wall, Private Space, Master Plan, Public Space, Library