Monday, March 3, 2008

Photos: Indianapolis Central Library

I know than I'm more than a little late on this one -- the library has only been open for, oh, about 3 months -- but I finally got over to the reopened Central Library last weekend while my family was visiting. Enjoy!
The auditorium is still under construction:

8 comments:

Piepton said...

Well seeing as it took 14 kajillion years to complete I guess your 3 month tardiness is acceptable.

Jessica said...

1) I don't know if you have heard, but there's a tapping at the downtown Rock Bottom on Thursday - Fire Chief Ale. It's one of our favorite specialty beers that Jerry does.

2) We are planning on badaboomz for Friday - I think Rod was going to get back in touch with you.

hooray beer!

Mike said...

You guys like beer?

When Gina and I visited the library I couldn't get over the thought that it was way too nice to be Indianapolis' library. Seems like it belongs to another city.

thundermutt said...

How can something so beautiful on the inside be so fugly on the outside?

SpeedBlue47 said...

Are you talking about the Cret building or the Addition? I personally think the addition is very nice looking. And the inside looks awesome, can't wait to get back to Indiana in the next couple of months!

thundermutt said...

The addition is not attractive from any angle other than front dead center on the Mall. It relates poorly to its neighbors and to the main arteries that pass by it. It contributes nothing to street life, and serves as a one-block "void" on both arteries.

The Cret building is handsome, rectillinear, and classic in form, material, and siting.

This one is the "elevator speech". I could go on, but everyone's read it before.

SpeedBlue47 said...

I'm trying to get a fix on people's personalities here. So are you saying the modern-ness of the architecture is what you dislike, or the fact that it have more contact with the street? I may be wrong, but I though that addition was to be the "back" of the library, and I'm not used to the backs of many buildings being very engaging. Unless these are whole-city block developments.

In 2006, I spent the summer pouring concrete for the Buggs Temple renovation. When I would leave work, I'd make a point to drive past the library to see the progress. I loved it, even though it was only half cladded at the time.

Here's my thing, I don't buy the whole "relationship" thing. A building is it's own thing, and shouldn't try to copy the buildings around it, or there would be a dearth of visual interest in the area. The cities that are most adored(at least by me and most people I know) are those that eclectically combine the various architectural styles and materials used throughout time. It's like a living visual timeline. The St. Clair area is very old, but is being re-built. Shouldn't it reflect that? It's trying to relate to every other building in the city that has prevented truly world-class architecture from coming to Indy.

Oh, and BTW, you could make the argument that a building like the addition should have surplanted or supplemented the old library, and not been connected. I do not think even an old building should be hacked and slashed with a very different structure. But I'm sorry, I'll take the architecture of the addition over that of the Cret structure any day. And I grew up spending a lot of time in the Cret's reading rooms.

thundermutt said...

The library IS a whole-block development, save the part left to the Ambassador apartment building. If a building backs up to an alley, I really don't care what the alley side looks like. But if it sidles up to two main arteries, it should address those arteries in some meaningful way.

What do I mean? An urban building should be "permeable" at ground level. (Yes, I know the Cret building fails, but it is a special case due to its position on a very formal mall surrounded by similar structures.) The library addition is, to put it bluntly, mean to its neighbors. It casts glare everywhere. It does not respect the rectillinear grid of the formal space before it. It is cold and uninviting, surrounded by tall iron picket fences.

We seem to be replaying a debate on "architecture as sculpture" versus "architecture as threads of the urban fabric". In my view, everything in a city exists in its physical and historical context. The Cret building is from an era when scholarship, learning, and civic organizations were held in high esteem and housed in then-modern "temples". The addition looks like an alien spaceship deposited it from the sky, and it would be at home in any suburban office park in the US.

How would I have done it differently, you ask? Even if the curved front was a key element, I would have squared the sides up to the streets. I would have used limestone, glass, and aluminum. I would have put engaging pedestrian entrance plazas on Meridian and Penn leading directly into the Atrium connector. I would have tucked the parking garage entrance onto 9th St. instead of Penn.