Ohio State University
Thompson Memorial Library
Restoring elegance to the 1913 Beaux Arts building
The original 1913 Beaux Arts building was enlarged in 1951 and again in 1977, resulting in a series of poorly connected spaces. GUND removed the low 1951 entry pavilions or “saddlebags” from the east façade, allowing the refined Beaux Arts façade to once again meet the ground with simple dignity. The 1977 west facade was removed and replaced with a more contemporary interpretation of the Beaux Arts elevation of the 1913 building. A limestone base and continuous banding around the entire perimeter unify the two facades. Compact massing strategies were fundamental to the success of the project because of site constraints. The replacement addition and reconfigured organization reduced the library's gross size while increasing its usable area.
Transparency and openness clarify the internal organization of the library.
The library maintains a symmetrical organization and east-west “public street” through the building in response to the east-west axis of the Oval. Entrances on both sides lead to new sky-lit atria connected by a glass-encased book tower at the center of the building. The existing skin of the book tower was replaced with glass to reveal seven stories of books. The significant volume of the atria coupled with the natural light and views of collections and activities surrounding the atria provides a dramatic sense of arrival while offering visual cues that remind people that the library is a place for scholastic work. Users immediately understand the library’s organization, spatial hierarchy and direction.
Designed for maximum flexibility.
The trays surrounding the atrium are highly adaptable to respond to the evolving patterns of learning and library use. They feature flexible furniture and lighting, and a straight-forward organization within which secondary and tertiary modifications can be made as program, learning styles, and technology advance. The lower level trays serve as perches from which to be seen and seek out friends. The upper level trays are intended for quieter, more scholarly activities. A glass stair connects all the floors surrounding the atrium.
Variety of space.
Reading rooms are located on the east, west and on the top level of the tower. The historic Grand Reading Room on the east was restored to the grandeur of its original 1913 design. In contrast, the new Buckeye Reading Room on the west is a contemporary space with advanced technology to support lectures and special events. The Campus Reading Room on the top floor of the tower is a flexible area offering some of the most dramatic views of campus and is frequently used for gatherings and special events.
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