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Bounded Procession: London Public Library

Showcase row: 
not a showcase item
Student name: 
Katie Lau
Discipline: 
Architecture
Level: 
Bachelor 4
Instructor(s): 
Jane Murphy
Course: 
ARCH 4410: Architectural Design V
Term: 
Autumn 2015
Description: 

At the start of this project, I was interested in Christopher Wren churches in London and the way

that their presence in the skyline creates monuments and points of organization within the city. I

was also interested in the idea of a church in relation to a library as a community gathering

space and source of knowledge.

Looking at these precedents, I drew themes of procession, thresholds, and pavilions as

indicators of destination spaces in the skyline.

On the site, my library responds to two axes: one through the center of the orthogonal portion of

the site, and another that results from the compression of the riverfront by existing buildings.

This compression funnels pedestrians into the site and regulates views out of the site.

The main mass of my building respects the boundaries of the neighboring buildings (front &

height) and has a central void—the great hall. My library is organized by a series of thresholds

and pavilions. The first threshold and pavilion sit on the North side of the site as objects in a

garden and a gateway into the project, and set up this sequence of thresholds and pavilions that

proliferate throughout the project.

The thresholds organize circulation. The main procession of the library moves through the

thresholds as a series of gateways, ending in the “altar” of the library: the rare books room—a

protected space, wrapped in threshold.

Circulation also moves vertically and horizontally through the thresholds. Visitors entering from

the street side of the site also get an initial instance of threshold and pavilion, then move on axis

a level down from the main procession and get views into the great hall and rare books room.

The pavilions signal destination spaces in the skyline and, on the interior, they allow for light into

or views out of the project. Their scalloped form is a contemporary take on the idea of the

repeated form of a steeple. Every pavilion can be occupied in some sense: the auditorium, the

rare books room, the skylight of the great hall, and two pavilions that are occupied from the roof

garden, where the pavilions, again, act as objects in a garden. Pavilions are simultaneously

grand steeples and occupiable objects in a garden, depending on the visitors’ point of view.

Image(s) of work: 
Draft: