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ardecila Jul 1, 2018 3:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 8238622)
Yeah, the grandeur of the exterior does not continue when you enter the building.

Perhaps that can be corrected in a future remodeling?

I think within the classical paradigm, it's difficult to design a building with open stacks, because it creates so much more square footage that then has to be treated with expensive materials and ornamentation. The famous NY Public Library on 42nd St has closed stacks, so most of the books are contained within a very raw unfinished space that is off-limits to all but librarians, while the public only sees a series of gorgeous lobbies and reading rooms. Of course, this means they need to hire a lot of librarians, but it's also more space-efficient because the stacks can be collapsible or automated, you don't need a bunch of aisles.

For this reason, the interior of the HWPL is mixed quality. Parts are spectacular, like the lobby with the round hole in the floor and the winter garden. Other parts are very pedestrian, like the elevator banks and restrooms. I don't mind having to go up into the stacks, it's a symbolic transition, the knowledge of the library is literally contained on a higher level and you have to go up to access it, often through a relatively constrained staircase. The escalators themselves at the HWPL remind me of malls and I wish they were replaced with an actual staircase.

The lobby itself is gorgeous with the round hole in the floor, and the access sequence to upper levels is literally the same as other renowned libraries like Labrouste's Bibliotheque Ste Genevieve. It doesn't have the cavernous reading room of that library, but instead it has a series of pretty neat study carrels contained within the uber-thick brick perimeter on every floor, that bring a little mystique to every floor of the building.

Mr Downtown Jul 1, 2018 3:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pilsenarch (Post 8238606)
The entry sequence? It's just a very bad joke.

I'm not sure I'd agree with that. You come through an elegant but compressed portal and then into the high-ceilinged central court, which was organized as an impressive rotunda. Then up the escalators past a couple of big pieces of public art and into the reference and circulation area. From Congress, you pass through a gallery to reach the rotunda. The entry from Van Buren or Plymouth was less straightforward.

Now that lengthy sequence was very frustrating for us frequent users who just wanted to get to the books rather than be impressed by civic grandeur twice a week—but "a very bad joke?" My understanding was that the library insisted on such separation from the sidewalks, for security purposes. That was also what reportedly scotched the direct entry from the L station.

Recently, they've eliminated the third-floor checkpoint, so you can now get straightaway to an elevator right on the ground floor. Unfortunately, that means going to what seems like the service corridor in the back of the building.

rgarri4 Jul 1, 2018 6:59 PM

The Harrold Washington Library is ugly and just plan silly looking. I remember in architecture school how it always came up as a bad example of Post Modernism. And its interiors, other than the top floor, are atrocious.

10023 Jul 1, 2018 7:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rgarri4 (Post 8238775)
The Harrold Washington Library is ugly and just plan silly looking. I remember in architecture school how it always came up as a bad example of Post Modernism. And its interiors, other than the top floor, are atrocious.

I’ve always thought it was OK if one looked at it as an intentionally over-the-top, flamboyant design. Sort of like Gaudi’s work.

Busy Bee Jul 1, 2018 10:21 PM

^Concur

pilsenarch Jul 2, 2018 4:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 8238677)
I'm not sure I'd agree with that. You come through an elegant but compressed portal and then into the high-ceilinged central court, which was organized as an impressive rotunda. Then up the escalators past a couple of big pieces of public art and into the reference and circulation area. From Congress, you pass through a gallery to reach the rotunda. The entry from Van Buren or Plymouth was less straightforward.

Now that lengthy sequence was very frustrating for us frequent users who just wanted to get to the books rather than be impressed by civic grandeur twice a week—but "a very bad joke?" My understanding was that the library insisted on such separation from the sidewalks, for security purposes. That was also what reportedly scotched the direct entry from the L station.

Recently, they've eliminated the third-floor checkpoint, so you can now get straightaway to an elevator right on the ground floor. Unfortunately, that means going to what seems like the service corridor in the back of the building.

Yes, you enter through a compressed portal, which is fine, and then you arrive at an *adequate* space with the whole in the floor (looking down on a space that hardly anyone inhabits)...

the real problem starts once you arrive in that ground floor space which one would most likely be in only if they didn't know where they were going... once you do realize how to get up into the library, you either have to wait for an elevator, or you *turn-around* and have to use *single-wide*, *switch-back* escalators to arrive in a completely *pedestrian* space...

what is elegant about that? what about that sequence was even remotely beaux-arts inspired? where is the grand staircase? all of the regular users never get even remotely close to the lobby with the round whole because they know to just immediately turnaround upon entering to take the two, narrow escalator rides to... more boredom.

Rizzo Jul 2, 2018 11:13 PM

At some point I think the interior of the library will need to be overhauled. It was designed for books and study, but now it’s less of that and more about learning through experiences and experimentation. I would hope for more large open spaces, improved digital fabrication labs, spacious and modern exhibit rooms, more computer labs tailored to design and production.

Personally I love the ostentatious exterior. Its heavy masonry walls and contrasting metal crown are rich in shadow, texture and contrast. Its only downside is a dark interior with stale fluorescent lighting, but that’s a better reason to pursue a future interior design thats immersive in digital display

Busy Bee Jul 2, 2018 11:30 PM

Books? What is books?

left of center Jul 3, 2018 12:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8239684)
Books? What is books?

Its like the internet, but printed on trees

:cool:

ardecila Jul 3, 2018 2:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rgarri4 (Post 8238775)
The Harrold Washington Library is ugly and just plan silly looking. I remember in architecture school how it always came up as a bad example of Post Modernism. And its interiors, other than the top floor, are atrocious.

A bad example? I think it's great Postmodernism. Certainly it fits in well with neighbors like the Monadnock and the Second Leiter Building. I like it much better than anything by Michael Graves or Charles Moore.

Busy Bee Jul 3, 2018 2:51 AM

Preach it brother

ethereal_reality Jul 3, 2018 5:48 AM

I remember I was at the Dearborn Street Book Fair when a helicopter flew over dangling one of the giant owls (in route to the library for installation)
It's an image I'll never forget....for a moment it felt like I was in a Fellini film.

Steely Dan Jul 3, 2018 2:16 PM

^ wow, that's awesome! what a great memory to have.

i don't care what anyone says, those giant owls are freaking cool.

i've come to appreciate the over-the-top ridiculousness of HWL's exterior.

but the interior spaces and circulation? yeah, those leave A LOT to be desired.

ChiHi Jul 3, 2018 3:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 10023 (Post 8238782)
I’ve always thought it was OK if one looked at it as an intentionally over-the-top, flamboyant design. Sort of like Gaudi’s work.

If function plays any role in design then the library may be the worst ever built. I've spent a lot of time in that place over the years trying to get work done and that place is almost a megaphone for sound to travel through. There's also so much dead wasted space in there.

And pretty sure the interiors were created with the intention of technology never being a thing. Good luck finding a well placed outlet somewhere. Need to bring a 20' extension chord.

Clarkkent2420 Jul 4, 2018 8:56 PM

#

pilsenarch Jul 4, 2018 9:15 PM

^I get your point,

but art has a function as well,

and architecture IS art,

and key to art as architecture is that, number 1,

it functions!

r18tdi Jul 5, 2018 6:21 PM

I figured there would be some kind of change.org petition by now.. A bit too lazy to start one myself.

spyguy Jul 6, 2018 2:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by r18tdi (Post 8242292)
I figured there would be some kind of change.org petition by now.. A bit too lazy to start one myself.

You can always email the Alderman with your feedback:

Quote:

Your feedback is crucial in Alderman Reilly's negotiations with the development team. If you were unable to attend the community meeting, and would like an opportunity to share your thoughts this proposal, Alderman Reilly wants to hear from you. Contact us at development@ward42chicago.com.

Mr Downtown Jul 6, 2018 3:33 PM

I'm not sure I see Reilly rejecting a PD over aesthetic concerns—though there's no harm in trying. I think a better bet is to make a preservation principles–based argument to members of the Landmarks Commission.

(IT UGLY!!!!
is not such an argument.)

Clarkkent2420 Jul 7, 2018 9:38 PM

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