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title   The Palpability of Literature and Architecture: A Library in New Orleans
student   Caela Beene
instructor   Jonathan Reich
date   Spring 2006
school   California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
     
subject   public building
site   Lower Ninth Ward
     
description  
Inspired by the notion of palpability—a quality of experience so intense that the bodily senses are affected—this project proposes a design for a library that will serve as an anchor for community rebuilding. Located along the busy urban corridor of North Claiborne in the Ninth Ward, the library is designed to serve a variety of community needs, accommodating individual study as well as group interaction through a series of “pods”. A children’s library rotunda on the first floor, attracts the youngest New Orleanians. Multi-level open spaces provide a sense of airiness while establishing connection among floors. Structural features include a large skylight, glass curtain walls, and external wooden screens, all designed to manipulate and balance light within the building.
The design of the surrounding environment is as important as that of the built structure in this proposal. Nestled among trees, external reading pods for individuals provide for the enjoyment of New Orleans’ temperate climate. The project also incorporates existing structures that the library joins on its block and creates new uses for them, such as housing for a “writer in residence”. This project aims to heal not only ruined structures but also the community’s devastated spirit by providing a holistic design concept that re-energizes the entire neighborhood.
     
link   school site
     
comments  

10/21/06
Miriam Gee
Seattle, WA

Caela, your project is incredible, way to get yourself out there!



10/18/06
Laura Watkins
Fresno, CA

Awesome! Looks like you clearly made the right decision to go with architecture.



05/24/06
Caela Beene
San Luis Obispo, CA

Books should be given priority above all other equipment in the library. Spaces with stacks should be raised above the flood level to protect books during a possible disaster.
Clear transitions should be made in the progression from public to private spaces, as reading varies from quietly individualistic to universally public.
New Orleans has a strong vernacular architectural style, refined through centuries of climate response and cultural adaptation. Shutters, verandas, shotgun-style homes, and local materials are important precedents.
The reading room should be the central focus of the building, as well as the reading "pods" that are the defining architectural aspects of the building.
The places where and the manner in which people read is almost as diverse as the type of books they enjoy (example: a canoe is not only useful in the water.) A variety of reading spaces should be provided, each with a quality near environment, comfortable lighting, and natural atmosphere.
The environment of the South is as iconic as its architecture. Indoor/outdoor spaces provide a connection to the environment while alluding to the traditional Southern lifestyle.



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