A robot-filled, architectural marvel in North Carolina is the library of the future

By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz for qz.com

Overlooking Lake Raleigh on North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) campus is a gleaming, colossal structure. It’s a library, but quite unlike any you’ve probably ever seen before. Designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta (best known for its work on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt) the $150 million James B. Hunt Jr. Library is an architectural marvel. It has the sleek look of an Apple store and is shaped a bit like an enormous, platinum stapler; its facade, shimmering in the late July sunshine, appears to be threaded together, a look inspired by a robust history of textile technology on campus. It stands out keenly against the neo-Georgian red brick buildings that make up most of the University’s Centennial Campus, but would be just as eye-catching in another setting.

The five-floor building covers more than 230,000 square feet (more than 21,000 square meters) and can hold up to 1,700 students. In fact, a major impetus for its construction was to increase the amount of seating and study spaces for students, but in the aftermath of 2008 financial crisis, its budget was cut by $11 million, which meant the library would have to use less material and effectively be smaller in size. Rather than discouraging administrators, it forced them to innovate.

Public libraries remain a critical public resource, but as budgets have been slashed and information digitized over the last several decades, many have been forced to adapt from book-storage rooms to high-tech public spaces. Indeed, libraries in urban areas remain an important space for those residents with limited incomes, education, and access to resources. By reimagining the relationship between information and technology and how humans interact with both, Hunt’s designers created a unique space in which the community can learn, create, or simply gather.

Read more here.

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