Re-Imagining Alderman Library

Course:  ARCH 4010 | Architectural Design III | Fall 2010 | University of Virginia

Critic:  Karen Van Lengen

Problem:  Alderman Library is the “main library” for the University of Virginia, which has a total of sixteen libraries.  It currently has a dysfunctional main hall, and although it is located next to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, there is no connection between the two.  The Small Special Collections Library is completely underground, and as a result, many students do not even know it exists.

The task was to redesign and give purpose to the main hall of Alderman Library, as well as create a connection–either physical or virtual–between Alderman Library and the Small Special Collections Library.

Strategy: The continued necessity of physical books and dedicated library space has been called into question in recent years. This project asserts that there will always be a need for physical books and artifacts, and that it is the interaction among artifacts, information, and new technologies that constitutes the future of scholarly research and university libraries. The formation of physical space to support this assertion is achieved by peeling back the layered landscape to reveal what is suppressed beneath; creating a circulation network weaving together Alderman, Special Collections, and Clemons Libraries; and integrating new collaborative spaces into the circulation network by putting them on display. Past, present, and future are therefore united into an open and adaptable network of spaces.

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