The University of Arizona Poetry Center
Poetry Center / Non-Circulating Library
Concepts of accessibility and the connection between architecture, poetry and readers drove the design of this facility that houses the most outstanding collection of contemporary poetry in the US. Visitors experience outdoor gathering and comfortable places of solitude and contemplation. Security in this user-specific public facility is seamlessly blended into the architecture, addressing the Center's need for safe and monitored storage of archival, sensitive materials.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Southern windows are protected by overhangs which allow daylight into the spaces. The west elevation has minimal fenestrations, providing a barrier from traffic noise, and mitigating direct solar heat gain, reducing demand on the mechanical system. On the east, a “binary wall” shades the bamboo garden, celebrating a line from a Richard Shelton poem (“you shall learn the art of silence”) with holes punched out in binary code.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The connection between Architecture and Poetry are overarching in the design, an idea that is conceived as a “progression towards solitude.” Progression starts at the west with an active humanities seminar room whose transparent walls can be opened allowing flexibility within the shaded transition space. Moving east, public functions dissolve into more intimate spaces within the collection, and finally one finds themselves in the bamboo garden, an outdoor area of solitude and contemplation.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
Programming and preliminary design of the project started in 2003. Construction finished in 2011. The project is located within the Sonoran Desert on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona, USA.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Architecture, Building and Structure Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
Design Tools (Physical Modeling, SketchUp, AutoCAD)
Rendering Software (3DS Max)
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
The 18,000 square foot Poetry Center houses over 70,000 shelved volumes. Natural materials are expressed and were selected for their durability and longevity in the harsh Sonoran Desert environment - these include exposed concrete, concrete masonry, steel, and glass.
There were a number of contradictions in the Program; desire to provide a place suitable for active discourse and quiet solitude; ability to read in natural light yet offer protection from its destructive UV nature; intimacy with the books and the reality of housing 70,000 volumes; and the desire for security while making the poetry readily accessible to all. These contradictions inherent with combining a valuable collection with an active university and community resource drove design concepts.
TEAM MEMBERS (5) :
Lead Design Architect - Les Wallach, FAIA, Project Manager - Henry Tom, AIA, Project Architects - Colbi Campbell, Jennifer DaRos, Architectural Support -Bob, Clements, AIA, Johnny Birkinbine, AIA and
All images : Robert Reck