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    Mysteries of the Mall

    Jamie Evelyn Goldsborough
    Jan 14, '17 10:02 PM EST

    Witold Rybczynski writes of visiting the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago:

    "The atmosphere was different from that in other public buildings. Unlike a museum, it had no price of admission, and the security guards were unobtrusive; the stacks were open, and the books were there to be picked up and leafed through. There was also a more mixed crowd than one finds in a museum or a concert hall: groups of teenagers, elderly men and women, college students, street people. In a period where even art museums are beginning to resemble shopping malls, this library stands apart. It didn’t make me feel like a consumer, or a spectator, or an onlooker; it made me feel like a citizen. 

    Most striking of all, the library makes not the slightest effort to entertain the people who use it. Too many of our public places (shopping malls, airports) are either selling us something or attempting to keep us amused. The Chicago library takes itself, and its users, seriously, and through an architecture that is calm and measured, it resolutely communicates this sense of purpose: that books and reading and knowledge are important."

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A collection of perspectives, rememberings, and thoughts as a dual Master of Architecture + Master of Arts Design Criticism graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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