performance. graduate dESIGN 2 | SPRING 2019
Located just north of the Free Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the program acts as an extension of the existing library’s collection to exhibit its rare books to the public while also protecting them from the elements. Given that modern trends are moving away from spending ample amounts of time inside reading in favor of faster, more interactive experiences, it is important to consider how the idea of ‘library’ evolves in response. The proposal for this site thus not only allots the necessary square footage to hold more volumes of text, but also introduces a new program focused on the idea of performance.
An interactive theater would be placed within three massive volumes, weaving spatial itinerary to allow individual scenes to take place and the audience to move around the performers freely. Not only does this allow the audience to experience the stories at their own pace, but also transports them into the middle of a scene/set rather than merely looking at it like in typical theater organizations. After researching the significance of certain authors within the city of Philadelphia, it was decided that the interactive theaters would be based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and the book collections would be limited to horror, detective, or science fiction, all of which were pioneered by Poe.
Upon entry, one is placed in between the three volumes that comprise the interactive theater. These larger interstitial spaces would house an abundance of reading material via general stacks, and one is invited to wander around various artifacts relating to Poe. The main atrium not only showcases event and performance spaces, but also highlights primary vertical circulation. Multiple communicative staircases interact within their immediate ground/wall conditions, either carving, extending, or pulling away from these surfaces and masses. While people are invited and enticed by specific architectural elements, ultimately it is their choice as to how they will interact with the artifacts and text.