Monday, October 09, 2006

RISD Unveils New Library

This weekend marked the official opening of the Fleet Library at Providence's Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The library is now housed on the first floors of what was once the main hall of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Building. The beaux-arts style decor of the original building was largely retained, with modern elements worked in as per the design of "Nader Tehrani and partner Monica Ponce de Leon, principals of the Boston-based architecture firm Office dA."

The Providence Journal piece confirms what I have heard from friends who've seen the library: the modern elements don't quite jive with the architecture of the building: "only the circulation desk makes much of a design statement. (With its angular, lattice-like front and flaring top it looks a bit like a futuristic lean-to.) The bleacher/computer area, meanwhile, looks bulky and awkward, although a series of laser-cut panels featuring the names of famous authors is a nice touch. ... Unfortunately, many of these newer elements seem lost in such a large space. In this case, old easily trumps new."

Fleet Library will house RISD's 130,000 volumes of books and periodicals, with a special collections area on the second floor. Above the library, the upper floors of the building have been converted into student housing.

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