May '13 - Feb '16
The national library of Mexico is called Biblioteca Vasconcelos, but it's somewhat confusing since there actually several separate complexes in different parts of the city with the same name and part of the same system. The Vasconcelos library I set out for was the newest one, completed in 2006 by the Mexican Architect Alberto Kalach.
The exterior is not that exciting- it’s a massive slab of building, with battered sides lined with horizontal fins to block the hard sunlight. In that sense, it is quite militaristic, a vast slatted bunker. The local press apparently called it the "megalibrary". But, oh, the inside.
I walked in and immediately got butterflies in my stomach. The space made giddy with excitement. There are few buildings which I’ve seen that fill me with such wonder and I had to restrain myself from grabbing a passer-by and asking “isn’t this amazing!?!" I ditched my bag at one of the numerous bag checks, and headed up into the stacks.
The massive shell of the building is that-a shell, containing a huge continuous vault of a space, six or seven floors high and a block long. This massive space is lined on both sides with floating bookshelves, suspended from the ceiling. Long frosted glass catwalks run the length with numerous stairs running up the sides of the catwalks.
Occationally, massive slabs stretch across the vault serving as media centers, reading areas, periodicals. I spent an hour running around, shooting photos, generally geeking out. If you can imagine a giant central branch library with seven floors of books, and then you took away the floors but the left the bookshelves intact, you have an idea of what this place is like.
On the lower level, kids practiced dance routines outside, facing the dark, reflective glass.
Urban and architectural explorations from Mexico City to Stuttgart Germany through the eyes of a iterant architectural designer