Two libraries

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The two libraries and studies that follow are the products of an exploration into the problematic relation of man to nature. The work specifically examines the fact that while we are unquestionably a part of nature we are, at the same time, separated from it by our self-awareness. We exist as both symbolic and physical beings. As Christian Norberg-Schulz notes, we are precariously situated between the earth and the sky. Focusing on the fundamental elements of light and shadow, the projects explore the issues of separation and inclusion. It is hoped that a glimpse of the innate terror, wonder and beauty of our daily existence may be revealed.

The work deals specifically with the making of layers and edges while accentuating spatial flow and continuity. The desire is to bring the library patron into close contact with nature while simultaneously emphasizing a profound separation. Complementary to this is an interest in highlighting a perception of leaving and returning. Reading involves leaving one's present awareness in order to pursue another that is revealed through the pages of a book. One may gain a new perspective on the world through one's literary ventures. Regardless, however, of the distance one may symbolically travel one must always return to the immediacy of one's present situation. Seemingly endless possibility is balanced by the confinement imposed by one's own mortality.

In each project the visitor moves through layers of light and space, crossing a small, enclosed courtyard before reaching the main body of the library. Once inside, he regains a view of the courtyard as he sits down by the window to read. By emphasizing distance through layering, the visitor is withdrawn from the hectic cityscape and focused on the subtle interplay of light and shadow on simple concrete walls and on the fluttering leaves and branches of a tree. It is hoped that by withdrawing the visitor from the city and reminding him of his peculiar relation to nature he may renew his awareness of the human condition.