U of C’s Mansueto Library: a “new space for thought”

Regenstein, the university’s stately old library, was one of my favorite places when I studied at UChicago. I knew every musty nook and cranny of that imperious space, its perpetual twilight lighting and impenetrable filing system. Although staffed by the world’s crankiest librarians, I never once saw anyone reprimanded for bringing in food, the tolerance of which saved us from determining which came first, nourishment or studying. I once spent 27 straight hours there preparing a paper.

UC’s new library — one that is arguably going to enjoy a reign as the best library in the country — opens this week and I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it if I stepped on it. It is mostly subterranean (UC loves its underground) rising above ground only in one glittering, transparent dome, like a half-buried egg constructed entirely of Swarovski crystal.

To me, it is what architecture should be: a celebration of what the building stands for, an effigy of its soul. It’s lyrical, dramatic; a poem honoring the quest for understanding.

I miss Chicago.

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 10:46 AM  Leave a Comment  

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