Des Moines Public Library

Des Moines Public Library

Des Moines Public Library



This is an exceptionally direct building. A concept – a diagram almost – is developed in the most direct way possible into built form. A shape is traced on the ground that derives from the city block (the right angle) that stretches out into the park (the diagonal) and is extended vertically as a two storey building. Concrete floor plates follow the shape – there are no spatial gymnastics. The green roof is flat with no rooflights.

The architecture and detail are developed with extreme rationality and simplicity. Facades are a systematic panelled skin of perforate copper and glass. The directness of the building, its unswerving development from diagram to built form is what gives the project its real strength and profundity. The concept is clear, the elaboration absolutely no more than it needs to be.

The copper reduces solar gain in the building but it also cuts out light, meaning that the building has to be artificially lit throughout the day. However on a sunny day it is pleasantly cool and it is comfortable to sit in one of the many chairs scattered around the perimeter - something which could not be done in many glazed buildings. It is at night that this fine building really comes into its own. From the street the perforate nature of most of the skin becomes more evident, the bookstacks shimmer and the whole building simply glows.

 

 
 
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