Living Libraries: An Architectural Viewpoint

As much as a good book will transport you to another world, a great architectural structure will do you one better and bring those worlds to life. These libraries are so structurally brilliant, they may be as magical as the books they hold! 

Seattle Public Library Exterior Walkway. Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Exterior Walkway.

Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Interiors.  Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Interiors. 

Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Our Marketing Coordinator, Darra Kubera, recently travelled to Seattle where she discovered the Seattle Public Library. The building was constructed in 1998, showcasing a contemporary look and feel. According to the library's website, the building is "innovative in both form and function. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and former Seattleite Joshua Ramus were principal designers on the project, working closely with the Library's board, staff and the public during its development phase." 

Sainte-Genevieve Library, Paris.  Photo Credit: Lumas

Sainte-Genevieve Library, Paris. 

Photo Credit: Lumas

Saint-Genevieve Library Exterior.  Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Saint-Genevieve Library Exterior. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

If the Sainte-Genevieve Library in Paris doesn't transport you to a romantic place, then nothing will. According to Architectural Digest, "the library is best known for its exposed iron structure. The barrel vaults of the reading room are supported by lacy iron arches, which are held aloft by a central row of slender iron columns. Surrounded by windows, the room feels bright and inviting rather than heavy or oppressive." 

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa. Photo Credit: CRPL website

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa.

Photo Credit: CRPL website

After being destroyed by flood waters, the Cedar Rapids Public Library reopened in 2013. To see the incredible progress made, watch a time lapse construction video here. The new facility is 94,000SF over three floors, with a modern design allowing for an open floor plan and energy efficient technology. 

In 1913, the Hawaii State Library was built (originally as a Carnegie Library). This structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the largest libraries in the United States. According to Wiki, "The Edna Allyn Children's Room houses murals by artist Juliette May Fraser depicting Hawaiian legends while the garden courtyard features a mosaic of ocean currents by Hiroki Morinoue. Barbara Hepworth's cast bronze sculptures called 'Parent I and Young Girl' greet visitors at the lawn in front of the building."

Hawaii State Library Photo Credit: Hawaii Tours

Hawaii State Library

Photo Credit: Hawaii Tours

Kansas City Public Library. Photo Credit: Arch Wonders

Kansas City Public Library. Photo Credit: Arch Wonders

Finally, we just had to include the Kansas City Public Library which was actually designed to look like a shelf full of classic books! 

We know this is just a snippet of the wonderful, architecturally inspired libraries out there, so we want to hear from YOU! Leave us a comment below and share some of your favorite libraries!