• Library Planning Research

    The Analog Library and Architecture that Heals

    The library building, once a fortress for knowledge, is ready to undertake a renaissance and change for the better. There’s no question that we’re living in a digital age, but in the “The Revenge of the Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter,” David Sax tells the stories of businesses that have found a market selling “vintage” items like paper notebooks, records and stationery. Recently, we found that libraries are having the same renewed interest. Especially, during their book sales and public events.

    The PBS recording between WNYC Leonard Lopate and Author David Sax. includes a conversation about the renewed interest analog items. We can validate this notion from our experiences in the library world. During the interview, the author discusses the limited appeal of the purely digital life and the need to have books. Interestingly, we find this opportunity at every library we visit. So, the margin of success is obvious – community libraries and sharing local analog content distinguishes itself from the digital experience.

    A better library building and service, flexible in a sense that the library has inspiring spaces, is perpetual. The need for more storage of books and materials is becoming reality with technology. Even in the small town we need to create jobs, get our services locally and create spaces that enhance our community.

    We can learn from lessons from around the world to help us. For example, Michael Murphy (architect) provides an inspiring TED talk about how we can create a better world through architecture. He says that low fab techniques such as sourcing locally and giving people the dignity and role to play in the development of a hospital will get better results. We can see many similarities between his talk and the work we do at Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD

    You may see the Michael Murphy TED Talk – Architecture that Heals

    Below is a graphic we developed to understand the difference between library space planning, technology and design. The world is not a binary thing – we need to be able to experience our libraries and learning environments as shared environments for growth.


  • Library Planning Research

    A New Academic Library – House of Knowledge

    KAUST Library

    Created as the focal point on the new campus, the KAUST library crystallizes the architectural and functional ambitions of a new university. It is a contemporary global center for scientific thinking that is rooted in local culture with a senses of historic “place.” Our planning of the library space de-emphasized the building as a repository of books while emphasizing the social dimensions of learning and the access to knowledge through technology. The library respects Arabic culture, retelling the story of the House of Knowledge. Indeed, this is a symbol of educational leadership; with the value of learning at its heart.

    In our view, the House of Knowledge is a place of gathering; a metaphorical heart for learning. This university created library serves to function as a learning center, providing informal settings for scientists to share thoughts and ideas. Our program included group study areas and informal lounges that were located throughout the library’s spaces; a café is integrated at the entry, blurring the boundary of formal and informal knowledge sharing.

    This library was an innovative architectural project by HOK architects. They developed an innovative light-filtering and translucent, stone shroud that complemented the interior layout. Their expert and professional services gave the library its architectural character. For example, the shroud drapes the north and south façades while leaving the east and west facades open. This provides grand views of the Red Sea to the west and transparency toward the campus to the east.

    We hope you will visit this example of a great academic library and let us know how you enjoyed – the house of knowledge.