A Building for the people.

Image for post
Image for post

When Nancy Tessman, then the Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Public Library, put together the design brief for the building she envisioned “a great space within the library that could be used by the public”. Moshe Safdie took that kernel of an idea and conceived of a grand public space — a thoroughfare of sorts, and literally wrapped a building around it.

Image for post
Image for post
The Salt Lake City Public Library’s “Urban Room” is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and plays host to art fairs, town hall meetings, weddings, public and private gala dinners and the like. Cafes, sandwich shops, florists and bookstores occupy the first floor of the crescent wall, with reading galleries on the upper three floors.
Image for post
Image for post
The Library is an extrovert building, connected to the city around it. Safdie approached the project by rethinking the library’s relationship to its context and proposing a new kind of three-dimensional public realm.

But Moshe didn’t stop there. He created a public space on the roof of the museum — an lushly landscaped outdoor reading room, reached either by climbing atop a wall that ascends from the plaza or taking a beautiful winding stair (or glass elevator!) from the top floor of the library stacks.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

He created an amphithetre set below the public plaza — a sunken courtyard which could be used from the outside or the inside, and buried the parking beneath a landscaped hill to create a public lawn.

Image for post
Image for post

Then the community took it from there:

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

One of the most important goals in architecture is to create meaningful, vital and inclusive social spaces. As architects, we are responsible for shaping not only a project’s program, but also its larger civic role of enabling and enriching the community.