Rotch Library of Art, Architecture, and Planning, MIT

Rotch Library, MIT

Addition: Schwartz & Silver, 1990

Harleston Parker Medal, 1993

The library occupies the second floor of Building 7 - and then slips out and up the back of the existing structure with a six-story, 30 x 100-foot sliver of stacks. Its stunning aluminum-clad steel structure floats above a loading zone in the rear – where it is far less visible than it deserves to be. It is all an excellent lesson in clever planning, efficient use of space, and strong architectural expression in a challenging urban context.

The layout allows people and books, new and old, and inside and outside to interact in a variety of interesting ways. The details - in wood, aluminum, and glass - are combined in an elegant and often quirky manner that is characteristic of the firm’s best work. The books are protected from ultraviolet radiation by heat mirror glass, a glass and plastic sandwich developed at MIT in the 1970s.