Activating The Modern Library Through Natural Light
In honor of mom In memory of dad
<Abstract> With changing technologies, the architecture of a modern library should consequently evolve from a silent sole keeper of records toward an interactive space in the community. The proposed Roanoke Public Library seeks a more active architecture through the offering of a great public space with natural light, its visual transparency, and a significant physical presence in the community.
VIRGINIA TECH SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN BACHELOR OF ARCHITECTURE 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS 06
INTRODUCTION TO SITE
PROGRAM OF THE MODERN LIBRARY
DEFINING THE ACCESS CORE
READING LIST/ BIBLIOGRAPHY
INTRODUCTION TO SITE
Roanoke Virginia lies in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is a city far removed from its railroad glory days. The surrounding rolling landscape gives way to numerous flatpaved parking lots, some of which take up prime real estate in the historic downtown district. One of the largest parking lots is on the corner of Williamson Rd and Church Ave. It is one of the first views visitors see traveling into the city. The site was chosen for its location in the heart of downtown, with direct access from the intersection and the local farmers market. The site itself is surrounded by the backs of smaller buildings, which create several pedestrian pathways to the Center in the Square.
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The architecture of Roanoke ranges greatly from the traditional brick and mortar storefronts, to a small skyline dominated by Wells Fargo. The sharp modern edges of the Taubman Art Museum add to the range of building elevations and volumes, as they vary significantly much like the surrounding mountainous landscape. At this point, the city lacks a true architectural identity with a majority of the outspoken population favoring a imitative language of traditional roots.
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PROGRAM OF THE MODERN LIBRARY
Downtown Historic District
The program of a modern day library has changed. Information technology plays a major role in the operations of a modern library. Instead of just a container for books and readers of those books, todayâ€™s library as a public institution should offer a space to the community that embraces it beyond digital information that is readily available domestically. This change has called for a consolidation of books from surrounding branch libraries, and why the printed copies still play a key role in the program. The new Roanoke Library will hold triple the amount of volumes as itâ€™s predecessor, currently located in Elmwood Park, freeing up more than 54,000-sq-ft of usable green space.
Roanoke Valley Libraries 1,100,000 Books
New Roanoke Public Library 2 200,000 ft
Roanoke Valley Libraries 1,100,000 Books
Staff 7% Meeting/ Public 15% Support 14% Reading/ Research 14%
Roanoke Public Library 250,000 Books
Current Roanoke Public Library2 54,000 ft
New Program Breakdown
Available Space Breakdown
Roanoke Public Library 87,704 Books
New Library Structure
Current Library Structure
“The public library envisioned as ‘active force’, a community center striving to bring book and reader together and appeal to the entire community with a thousand and one activities that distinguish the modern library from its more passive predecessor” -Rem Koolhaas, OMA
The program of the proposed library achieves a complete library/media center to appeal to a larger portion of the community. It offers access to both digital and physical media. The library will be a go-to destination downtown for those interested in literature, technology, education, film, art, music and more. It will also act as a community center and public forum that allows the city’s residents a place to meet and socialize. These changes and additions in program are essential in redefining what a library is and a large step in once again making it an important and influential part of the city.
BOOKS MAGAZINES NEWSPAPER TEXT FOLIO PUBLICATIONS FICTION NON-FICTION PHOTO BIBLIOGRAPHY ARTICLES PRINT ART BOOKS MAGAZINES NEWSPAPER TEXT PUBLICATIONS FICTION NON-FICTION NEWSPAPER TEXT ART BIBLIOGRAPHY ARTICLES PRINT ART PHOTO BOOKS MAGAZINES NEWSPAPER TEXT BOOKS PUBLICATIONS FICTION NON-FICTION FOLIOS INTERNET WORLD WIDE WEB MP3 WMV JPEGS ONLINE ENCYCLOPEDIA WIKIPEDIA YOUTUBE GOOGLE SEARCH EMAIL COMPUTER DATA INTERNET WORLD WIDE WEB MP3 WMV JPEGS ONLINE ENCYCLOPEDIA WIKIPEDIA YOUTUBE GOOGLE SEARCH EMAIL COMPUTER DATA INTERNET WORLD WIDE WEB MP3 WMV JPEGS ONLINE ENCYCLOPEDIA WIKIPEDIA YOUTUBE MUSIC PAINTING FILM PHOTOGRAPHY BLUES ARTIST DANCE LITERARY PERFORMANCE ART CONCERT FESTIVALS MOVIES SINGINGTALENT TALENT MUSIC PAINTING FILM SINGING JAZZ PHOTOGRAPHY ARTIST DANCE LITERARY FILM PERFORMANCE CONCERT FESTIVALS MOVIES SINGING TALENT BLUES LIVE PERFORMANCE TALENT MUSIC PAINTING FILM SINGING JAZZ GREEN SPACE FORUM GATHERING FESTIVALS SHOWS PUBLIC CONFERENCE MEETINGS FUN ASSEMBLY PLAY CHILDREN ADULTS GATHER GREEN SPACE FORUM GATHERING FESTIVALS SHOWS PUBLIC CONFERENCE MEETINGS FUN ASSEMBLY PLAY CHILDREN ADULTS GATHER GREEN SPACE FORUM GATHERING FESTIVALS SHOWS PUBLIC CONFERENCE MEETINGS FUN ROANOKE COLLEGE LEARNING RESOURCE LEARN QUESTION VIRGINIA TECH ACADEMIC MEDIATE TEST CULTURE TRAINING TEACHER ROANOKE COLLEGE LEARNING RESOURCE LEARN QUESTION VIRGINIA TECH ACADEMIC MEDIATE TEST CULTURE TRAINING TEACHER ROANOKE COLLEGE LEARNING RESOURCE LEARN QUESTION VIRGINIA TECH ACADEMIC
ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARY -13-
LAW LIBRARY | ZURICH SWITZERLAND Santiago Calatrava uses steel as the main structural element in the Zurich Library. Curved steel trusses support the woodenclad reading circles and free up the plan. The trusses are supported on both ends of the library by two service cores that face each other and serve as the vertical circulation for the different floors. On the other side, the truss structure receives additional support from a tensile member over the six levels.
Top: Floor Plan Sketch Below: Section Sketch
The use of such a support system along with the choice of white cladding creates a sense of lightness and it appears that the structure is floating within the room. These trusses have multiple perpendicular mounted ribs that add to the structural integrity of the floors. The large atrium space is supported by a large curving, winglike beam that stretches from end to end supporting a skylight over the entire atrium. This central skylight provides natural light to the inner balconies of the individual floors around the central space. The light gradually diffuses more toward the bookshelves, essentially forming an illuminated central core for patrons to read and interact. This centralized core is a defining element and the identity of this space, providing the necessary light for reading and a clear spatial orientation.
Above: Reading Balconies and Skylight Left: Section Lighting Diagram Sketch
Philological Library | Berlin, Germany In the Philological Library Norman Foster uses a space frame with two different shells for the main egg-shaped envelope. The outside shell consist of a pattern of opaque metal panels and transparent glass that allows for natural light to penetrate the structure from all sides. The second layer, the interior, is made of mostly translucent panels that help to diffuse any direct light and prevent glare. Some transparent glass panels in both shells are positioned in strategic locations to allow glimpses of the outside and reveal the two skins of the space frame. Not only does the two layer system help to control natural light, but also acts as a thermal buffer. Side panels on the exterior shell are designed to open outward, while some on the interior push inward to allow for air flow through the two skins. The floor plan for each of the libraryâ€™s upper three floors is derived with the respect to the floor(s) above it. The serpentine edges of the floors curve back and forth to increase perimeter reading space with diffused natural light emitted from the envelope. On each level, the bookcases are located toward the center of the building. This layout allows the books to be kept out of any direct light, while the reading is supported by evenly lit by diffused light from the envelope.
Top: Floor Plan Sketch Below: Section Sketch
Top: Photo Collage of Entrance View Left: Light Diagram Sketch
DEFINING THE ACCESS CORE
The core of the proposed library serves as the access through the building and extends through the site. What started as a core tucked against the North side of the site, stretched to one that created a pathway between the intersection and the â€˜Center in the Squareâ€™. Several iterations aimed to better activate the site by forming more direct relations with the surrounding sites like the local farmers market. This makes it easier to navigate through downtown with a more established path.
The evolved core is a heavy concrete structure with two thick concrete walls bending through the site and contains a stairway that leads to each of the libraryâ€™s six floors. Volumetric subtractions in the three foot thickness of the wall define entrances into the reading floors and contrast between the heavy walls and the light and open space of the reading levels. In the core, small openings allow for views to the outside to help the visitor better orient themselves to the site but also preserve the tranquility of the space. Natural light is able to filter in from above, which changes the curved space throughout the day.
Access Core Render w/ Wall Section 1’
Natural light is an important consideration in the design of this library. People typically enjoy the presence of natural light, because of the multitude of positive attributes. In this proposal, natural light has presence throughout the space and is not limited to the perimeter. Spatial boundaries and circulation are also supported by delineated illumination with natural light.
Light Study Model
The central reading space underwent a series of iterations to not only test light penetration to each level, but also to study the relation to the access core. These study models helped to better examine natural light fall off due to the rotating and resizing of the elliptical openings of each floor.
The light studies suggested elliptical openings in the floor slabs that shared a common point in the plan and increased in size from there. This allowed for evenly distributed light rings between the levels.
Left: Reading Atrium Render Below: Reading Desk Light Diagram 10’
A skylight over the atrium distributes natural diffused light through the center of the reading floors. The study of the atrium opening tested the light ‘halos’ present on each ring, including their connection to the core wall, to allow for usable desk space around the five rings throughout the day.
â€œA Man With A Book Goes Into The Light. A Library Begins That Wayâ€? -Louis Kahn
Natural light guides the reader through the space without damaging books. The book stacks are safely tucked under the floor above them and artificially lit. Natural light appears at the edges but not on the books themselves. This contrast in lighting allows for a natural boundary between the reading spaces and stacks.
Left (T): Book Stack Lighting Diagram Left (B): 2nd Floor Plan Right: Book Stacks Render
Light Screen Render w/ Wall Section 2â€™
A louvered three layered screen along the south wall allows for visual transparency and diffuses the incoming natural lighting along the perimeter. This allows for more even natural light into the reading space.
Additional wooden horizontal louvers are attached outside the first curtain wall and are angled to allow diffused light into the space while still providing views of the city. Two curtain walls are supported by a fourfoot metal truss that acts as a buffer zone between the two glass walls. Heat from the solar radiation is trapped in this space, allowing for better regulation of the temperature differences between inside and outside.
The south entrance is pointed at the intersection of Williamson Rd and Church Ave while the north entrance lines a short path connecting the library with downtown. Event spaces are located on either side of the building to further activate the site and attract more people to the library. An outdoor amphitheater on the northeast side uses the large concrete wall as its backdrop on the northeast part of the site. This allows for a stepped-down urban plaza for gatherings, concerts, and outdoor projections for film. A green space takes advantage of itâ€™s southern exposure on the southwest side of the building. This provides a green refuge from the heavily paved cityscape of Roanoke. This green space rolls out from the library with a hill against the smaller concrete egress, that levels out towards the sidewalks.
Top: Ground Floor Plan Right: North Entrance Exterior Render
A series of reading areas step toward a skylight forming an atrium at the center of the floor plan. Consecutive increases in the floor slabs, with the smallest ring at the second floor, and the largest the sixth floor, allows natural light to reach each level. The floors are also recessed on the southern side, allowing for more private, naturally-lit reading space and views out toward Mill Mountain. The plan supports light as a natural boundary between the reading areas and book stacks. The main circulation takes place in the long concrete core, which also houses the services for the building. Main entrances can be found at the two important intersections catering to foot traffic from downtown and visitors arriving by car. The grand staircase leads visitors through the different floors while allowing views of the central atrium. A second concrete form on the opposite side, allows for necessary egress in addition to structural support.
Floor Plans 10’
NW/SE Longitudinal Section
NE/SW Longitudinal Section
The architecture of the new Roanoke Public Library attempts to be an active institution, almost in opposition to the traditional brick and mortar storefronts. It acquires a presence by filling in the abandoned corner at the intersection and continues the rolling elevations of the city.
â€œTechnology is not a threat, but it enables the realization of ancient ambitions-totality, completeness, dissemination, accessibilityâ€? -Rem Koolhaas, OMA
The importance and presence of libraries has diminished in a society where technology has made information readily available. This thesis suggest that the typology of a modern library needs to embrace both books and technology. Most importantly, to survive as a an institution, it needs to define an architecturally strong civic space. The proposed Roanoke Public Library attempts to fill a void in downtown and becomes an active member of the downtown ensemble. Its major space offers not only a naturally-lit place to read but a civic refuge with great views toward the mountains and the city.
Right: Night Exterior Render
Koolhaas, Rem, Bruce Mau, Jennifer Sigler, and Hans Werlemann. Small, Medium, Large, Extra-large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau. New York, NY: Monacelli, 1998. Print.Program of the Modern Library
Kubo, Michael. Seattle Public Library. Barcelona: Actar, 2005. Print.
Zumthor, Peter, Maureen Oberli-Turner, and Catherine Schelbert. Thinking Architecture. 2nd ed. Basel [etc.: Birkh채user, 2006. Print.
Crosbie, Michael J. Architecture for the Books. Mulgrave, Vic.: Images, 2003. Print
de Botton, Alain De. The Architecture Of Happiness. New York: Vintage International, 2006.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 01 02 03 04 05
Kubo, Michael. Seattle Public Library. Barcelona: Actar, 2005. Print. (p.12)
Strehle, Rene. “The New Law Library of the University of Zurich.” Liber Quarterly: Journal of European Research Libraries. Igitur, 6 Feb. 2006. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://liber.library.uu.nl/publish/articles/000171/article.pdf>. (p.14) Admin. “Foster Partners | Library for the Faculty of Philology – Free University of Berlin.” Arthitectural.com. 13 Oct. 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://www.arthitectural.com/ foster-partners-library-for-the-faculty-of-philology-free-university-of-berlin/>. (p.16) Hawkes, Dean. “A turn to the light: remaking a Cambridge library.” Architecture Today. 25 11 2011: n. page. Web. 7 May. 2012. <http://www.architecturetoday.co.uk/?p=18800> (p.28) Koolhaas, Rem, Bruce Mau, Jennifer Sigler, and Hans Werlemann. Small, Medium, Large, Extra-large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau. New York, NY: Monacelli, 1998. Print.Program of the Modern Library (p.41)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS A special thanks to the following people, who have helped to make this possible. To my parents, mom for her continuous support and my dad for pushing me to do my best. To my girlfriend, Emilia, for caring, being there and listening to my rants and raves. To the country club: Bryan for all the laughs and project â€˜critiquesâ€™, Derek for his vast computer knowledge and answering questions, Indy for the studio breaks and distractions. To my professors, Heiner, Mario, Dennis, Clive and Jim for the ups and downs and lessons learned along the way. This is not an end, only a beginning.
Published on May 24, 2012
2011-2012 architecture thesis at Virginia Tech by Joshua Thomasson. Program of the modern day library focusing on active design and redefin...