|The back becomes the front: UB Bogomolny Library|
For the first competition UB president Robert L. Bogomolny oversaw the proceedings. The UB Library now bears his name; this project was run under current UB President and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.
Many Baltimoreans needed some time to get used to the checker board facade of the law school, there wasn't quite a building like that in all of Baltimore. Many still ask how the outer glass facade would ever be cleaned. But the law school wasn't just a facade, it is an all new building with innovations throughout. For example, an atrium that meanders through all 12 stories.
By contrast, the library is only a four story under $30 million building and essentially, it is the old Langsdale library with a new facade. The atrium here is shrunk to a still impressive new glass stair add-on, slanted and angled, a bit like the stairway at the UB student center, just better.
|East West Section with Maryland Ave on the left|
We're calling it "the library of forever" because it can be modified to deal with the changes that are coming because of technology and the way people learn. (Kurt Schmoke to the BBJ)There are still book-racks but also many ways to interact with electronic screens: Coil in solitary seclusion into a shell, with a laptop or an i-pad or collaborate with others. In many ways the upper floors represent an exhibit of the many ways how people like to work today. Alone and invisible, at long tables now common in beer pubs and start-ups, at traditional round tables or in a oddly shaped glass enclosed mock conference room, resembling fish tanks or exhibit cases. A spot survey proved the hide out in plain view shells to be most popular. The stairway with its view of the sky and into the various floors is impressive, its solid light wood steps inviting, but students use the elevator.
|No doubt an improvement: The back of the old Langsdale Library|
The big urban design move is the relocation of the architecturally emphasized main entrance to the rear in a somewhat forced attempt to make the back become a front. The 2014 masterplan basically mandated it:The transformation of the University of Baltimore's Robert L. Bogomolny Library respects the memory and history of the original library design while simultaneously modernizing it to meet contemporary research, scholarship, archival and environmental demands. The original massing concept of the Library is substantially maintained – that of the “floating box” housing all of the library’s treasures.
Inside, the Glass hall promotes interior circulation, brings daylight and views into the original floor plate, and creates new informal study and meeting perches within its enclosure. Such spaces reappear on the library floors as well, acknowledging a new era of library use that privileges learning and interaction.(Behnisch website)
Renovation of the library will provide a new prominent entry on the west side facing what is now a surface parking lot. This reorientation of the face of the library will apply pressure to develop open space on the west side into a plaza/green space on campus.Circulation through the library's ground level will enhance the experience of walking from the Fitzgerald parking garage to the heart of campus, the Yale Gordon Plaza.
|From the garage to the campus plaza: Emphasized connection|
The price for the new emphasis on the west facade is that the presentation towards Maryland Avenue and the Penn Station area remains somewhat mundane. Those irregular windows with the regular white molded facade panels work very well from the inside.
|Molded panels evoking the plastic age. (Photo: Philipsen)|
From the outside the panels are somewhat reminiscent of Eiermann facades, a 60's contribution of a German architecture professor who was famous in the Stuttgart and Karlsruhe area a bit before Stephan Behnisch's father Guenther became a figure of national fame. Eiermann was known for designing white molded tiles which adorned the German department store chain Horten. One comment on Facebook read:
"Too much, too soon and too often." (Anna Karras)That pretty much sums it up. University architecture should at times be daring but it also needs to be timeless in the sense that the dare will withstand the test of time without looking dated. The law school should have no trouble with that, I am not so sure about the library facade.
|Views in the open stairway (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|Hiding in plain view in work nooks (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|There are still book racks (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|traditional work area and gigantic ventilation ducts (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|varied horizontal windows work well on the inside (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|Aerial view of the new library and the law school looking east (Behnisch Architects, Matthiessen)|
|Architect Stephan Behnisch (left. Photo: Matthiessen)|
|West elevation rendering (Behnisch Architects)|
|The way how the glass wall and the molded panels meet is detailed more cleanly than it looks (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|View from the little outdoor plaza (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|Dressing up the the old Langsdale building outside, exposing it inside (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|the fishbowl meeting spaces (photo Klaus Philipsen)|
|Color and sand in the yard (photo Klaus Philipsen)|