Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Resembling more of a prodigious wine cellar at first glance than a library, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut, is exquisite to say the least. It is one of the largest buildings in the world devoted to the preservation and collection of rare books and manuscripts, which includes one of the 48 surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible.
Stuttgart Municipal Library
Bright and white, the Stuttgart Municipal Library offers a pop of modern edge in a historic city located in Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state. The building’s only colors are its muted teal reading sofas and the tightly packed book spines that line every wall.
In a country known for zen-like design aesthetics, Japan’s Tama Art University Hachioji Campus Library in Tokyo is no exception to quality minimalism. The library is starkly grey and features large interior archways that maximize the building’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Shelves are kept low to optimize the library’s brightness and desk areas are strewn alongside its windows, allowing students to take in as much natural light as possible while studying.
In the middle of what looks like stacks of shipping containers inside Mexico City’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos is a large hanging sculpture by famed Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, titled Mobile Matrix (2006). The Alberto Kalach–designed eco-friendly building is one of the largest public libraries in Latin America. In addition to books, computers and study areas, it features a large botanical garden and a green roof to foster urban ecological regeneration.
Sir Duncan Rice Library
The Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland offers a stark contrast to the rest of the university’s Gothic grounds. Inside, the library appears to be composed of a series of white rings. With stacked layers that offer a view of the building’s center, each story sits on a different sized loop, making for a dramatic contemporary design.
Designed by internationally renowned architecture and integrated design studio Foster + Partners, the Philological Library at the Free University in Berlin was intended to resemble a human brain. Completed in 2005, the library has won several awards for its unique design and is regarded as an architectural landmark in Berlin.
Malmö City Library
Consisting of three buildings that serve as a study in contrasting styles of architecture, Sweden’s Malmö City Library is a sight to behold. Named the “Calendar of Light”, the newest Henning Larsen-designed building features sky-high windows and ceilings that provide a sense of infinite space.
Rounding out the list is the Geisel Library at UC San Diego, which offers both students and the public access to over seven million digital and print resources. The library was renamed in 1995 after Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, and his wife Audrey. Fans of the children’s book author will also be drawn to the library’s Dr. Seuss Collection. With over 8,500 items in the special collection, visitors can pore over original works by Seuss, including his signature quirky drawings, notebooks, drafts, books, photos, audio and videotapes.
Written by Bianca Bartz
Headline photo by schmidt hammer lassen architects