Library Design: Joshua Prince-Ramus on Seattle’s Library (TED Talk)

This TED Talk is a fascinating look at a process for designing modern libraries and other public spaces, based on three principles:  a hyper-rational process, editing/team approach rather than “authorship,” and compartmentalized flexibility.

It’s interesting that the architects identified both media/books and social roles as important aspects of the library, somewhat contrary to “the library’s” expectation that books/media was their primary role concern. Something Prince-Ramus points out that rang a bell with me, was that the current concerns of the library – “the book” – was subsuming the rest of the space.  Yes, I’ve worked in libraries where the books (or at least the medical journals) consume more and more space, leaving no room for the library’s other responsibilities.

I liked the description of a “parking garage for books” – a spiral in which the full run of the classification system can stay in order, as opposed to the “trail of tears” that pertains when a collection does not fit its space and must be split up on separate floors or areas.

I’m not likely to be involved in building a library, but the approach to design here suggests some ways of thinking about space, function, programming, and design that might be applicable to my very small spaces.

See the video here:

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