Dome Sweet Dome
By Margaret Lyons in News on May 12, 2008 5:32PM
Wow, underground buildings are the new above-ground buildings, apparently. First the Children's Museum revealed its dugout plans, and now the University of Chicago has yet more plans to keep its students sun-shunning mole trolls. We kid, we kid.
Architect Helmut Jahn designed the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library to be mostly underground with a crystal dome on top. The building will hold 3.5 million "volumes of print material" which will be stored "in a high-density, automated shelving system." Robo-library!
Architecture critic Blair Kamin worries that the look of the building clashes with the rest of U of C's campus.
The real trouble is the way the library departs from the university’s characteristic planning, which consists of walled-in courtyards: places of extraordinary dignity and repose. Regenstein broke that pattern in 1970 with its concrete Brutalism. Now the library’s Jetson futurism appears poised to repeat the same mistake.