Wolfgang Tschapeller suspends inverted ziggurat of 100,000 books in vast library space

The architect has given us an intentional and playful contrast between two floating worlds: the physical world of books and the weightless world of the internet. In this unique space, each derives added meaning from the other.
– Gerald Beasley

Wolfgang Tschapeller has suspended four levels of library stacks containing around 100,000 volumes in an inverted ziggurat at the Unversity of Cornell's Mui Ho Fine Arts Library.

Tschapeller's goal was to create "a 21st-century interpretation of the grand reading rooms associated with great research collections."

To achieve this, he removed the third floor of the Rand Hall building, in which the library is housed, to create a double-height space with a floor area of 30,379sq ft (2,822sq m).

Inside, a metal cage-like structure is hung from the ceiling and anchored to the floor to provide browseable stacks that are accessible by elevator, stairs and grated walkways.

The structure is lightweight in various ways: physically so that it can be suspended, spatially so that it allows for a naturally bright space and visually to allow for vertical and horizontal sightlines through the space.

Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch university librarian, said: "The architect has given us an intentional and playful contrast between two floating worlds: the physical world of books and the weightless world of the internet. In this unique space, each derives added meaning from the other."

In addition to the installation of the library centrepiece, the 18-month renovation of Rand Hall included the addition of a new fabrication shop on the ground floor, with a maker space, a research lab, and small-tool repository.

This allows the learning of knowledge and its practical application to be carried out within the same building.

Elsewhere, there are lounge and computing areas, spaces to study, a digital exhibition space and a new rooftop deck with baseplates for temporary experimental structures.

Wolfgang Tschapeller  library  Unversity of Cornell 
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