Transparent or Solid?

Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the largest building in the world dedicated to the containment and preservation of rare books, manuscripts, and documents.

It was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill and is located in New Haven, Connecticut.

So I want to build a library and say ”I want a solid building, but it should receive natural light for perfect reading environment and less damage for the valuable collections inside.” This is the time where an architect goes beyond the standards. The solution to this demand lies on the experimentation of building materials. Glass is not always the answer for light penetration,and so many materials can create such illusions that you could be surprised just like this building.

Made of Vermont marble and granite, bronze and glass, the exterior gives the illusion that the building is completely solid when viewed from the outside. It’s “windows,” blocked in a consistent linear rythmn along the exterior, consist of white, gray-veined marble panes that are one and one-quarter inches thick and are framed by shaped light gray Vermont Woodbury granite. The sleak marble allows for enough light to filter into the interior spaces without damaging the collections.

In total the library presently holds 500,000 volumes and several million manuscripts, and SOM’s design serves to preserve and glorify the billions of words inscribed inside each rare book.