Library for the future
Author(s)Kaufman, Julie Hui-Guang
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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The library is intended to be an egalitarian institution for the dissemination of knowledge to the public. With the advent of the internet, information has been further democratized and the status of the library has been questioned. However, its status as a symbol of the city's vitality has not lessened. While the internet can speedily distribute kernels of information, books provide the means of realization. As an important cultural center of the city, the library takes on various roles in the quest to create a culture that fosters education. Thus, it is more important than ever to create a space that challenges the identity of the library as it is today and provides a forum for the interactions of the city. The work of this thesis examines the library's influence on the reader, the community, and the world at large. The importance of occupying a library building rather than "remotely accessing" it must be understood. Finding factoids online is a solitary activity. Speed replaces the communal activities of searching, understanding and realizing, often replacing accuracy as well. The internet cannot simulate the feeling of the book, its weight, feel, and smell. Even the taboo food stains and pencil markings in the margins of a book trace the presence of the body, the mind, and the evolution of knowledge. The history of the book can be seen not only through the printed words, but within the markings left behind and the dates stamped in the back cover. Space, materiality, and activity must be emphasized in the library to underline the difference between information of the mind and understanding of the whole. The need for interaction among patrons has lead to a broadening of the term "library" and its uses. This word now refers to a cultural center intended for the spread of knowledge of all sorts. What once housed the source of man's cumulative education written for posterity in books, now also serves as a source of understanding between people. This "secular cathedral" has merged the museum, the concert hall, and the community center, validating their lessons: What we know is not only fact, but feeling. The library touches our senses as much as our mind. The library has become a site of sharing experiences learned from study and learned from the World, brought together in one building. It is a physical manifestation of enlightenment. The library is often considered figuratively to be the container of all knowledge. Though this is impossible, the library still remains the symbol of enlightenment in a city. Thus, the stacks can become a jewel box, displaying the books as an enticement for the public. Whether this takes the form of a transparent glass cube or a isolated, self-contained capsule, the stacks can be a beacon, guiding people towards education. The journey through the library to reach the books is important, as is the method of threshold through which they are revealed. This project seeks to set an example for what a community building can be to a city by examining a site at the corner of Massachusetts and Western Avenues in Central Square, the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This site, however, is vital for the municipality and would demonstrate the city's dedication to the education of all its citizens. Several bus stops begin at that very corner and the Central Square T-stop is just a block away. The transportation and governmental infrastructure is present near the site and make it ideal for a community library. The City of Cambridge currently has plans to expand its central library, located near Harvard Square. There is also a small branch library a short distance off of Massachusetts Avenue. Central Square is a vital front on which the library could expand it readership. Currently this area of Cambridge is populated with what one might call "undesirables." However, the creation of the library is an opportunity to attract these people to the joys of reading. Perhaps it begins as a warm place to rest, but the library should ultimately entice its occupants into the pursuit of knowledge within its walls, as well as outside of them. The library must relate to its urban context in order to draw people in. Although Central Square appears to be very disordered, there is in fact a regular pattern of parcels which extends perpendicularly from Massachusetts Avenue. In addition, each block has two "fronts" which also create an axis. The library responds to the overlapping of these two perpendicular systems, allowing one of the grid areas to remain open as a plaza. The building is also striated by function, according to the fabric of the land.
Thesis (S.B. in Art and Design)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2002.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 26).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology