Very Borgesian
January 23, 2015 9:34 PM   Subscribe

A reflective view of the main core of The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale.
The building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft, of the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and completed in 1963. When visitors first enter the building they are faced by two large marble staircases that ascend up to the mezzanine level and a large glass tower that is the central core of the building. The mezzanine level allows for people to rotate around the glass tower which holds 180,000 volumes.

Imgur.
Wikipedia.
Among other manuscripts, the library hosts The Voynich Manuscript
posted by growabrain (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooo, and all of its windows are thin sheets of stone? That is pretty darn cool.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:51 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Exeter Library, done shortly after this one, is kind of an inverse version.
posted by LionIndex at 10:26 PM on January 23, 2015


SOM does it again! Impressive.
posted by persona au gratin at 11:07 PM on January 23, 2015


Buildings like the Beinecke are the answer to the question: what is civilization?
posted by Thing at 12:57 AM on January 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


It looks ready for James Bond to break in through the roof and past the laser defenses.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:45 AM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can't tell from the pictures -- how does one actually access the books?
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:00 AM on January 24, 2015


That last link requires a mefi login, no?
posted by clvrmnky at 5:07 AM on January 24, 2015


I'll eventually read the whole post once I stop giggling over the fact that someone's name is Bunshaft.

Looking forward to learning what relevant architectural elements I can find in the wild that will allow me to pepper my observations with comments like, "The north elevation of that structure strikes me as particularly Bunshaftian."
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:25 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just so people aren't confused--the first link is "a reflective view" in the sense that the bottom half of the photo is just a mirror image of the top half. The Imgur link has some more accurate views of the inside.

I can't tell from the pictures -- how does one actually access the books?


There's a door in the ground floor into the stacks, and a central elevator. I got to go in once, and it was really cool.

In May, the library will shut down for a year for renovations, so go now if you get a chance.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:26 AM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


The translucent stone to let the light in is rather wonderful. I wish this building was close to me, this is my kind of church.
posted by arcticseal at 5:32 AM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had the pleasure of working in the Beinecke reading room one afternoon. It's a beautiful place.
posted by apricot at 5:49 AM on January 24, 2015


Everytime I realize I can't visit this building, I am quietly weeping inside.
Yes, because of what Thing just said.
posted by ouke at 7:17 AM on January 24, 2015


I was just reading about this, ironically, in a fashion blog that devotes long discussion articles to "grit" and "WASP values". The books themselves are kept in glass-enclosed stacks, and for many years only specially trained librarians, who had passed a physical fitness test, were allowed to work in the stacks--because the fire suppression system went as follows:

1. Fires can't burn without oxygen.

2. Therefore, upon detecting a fire, all oxygen will be removed from the stack section.

3. We'll give the librarians a few seconds to evacuate, so they have a sporting start.

Sadly, WASP values of grit and determination have deteriorated so far that the previous deathtrap was replaced in 2012 by a system that uses a breathable fire suppressant gas.

No word on the library's emotional state, now that it's deprived of its opportunities to eat a librarian every now and then.
posted by Hypatia at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


All the components are pretty neat, but I'm all meh about the building.

Yah, im a philistine.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:18 AM on January 24, 2015


In panopticon library, books read you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:41 AM on January 24, 2015


1. Fires can't burn without oxygen.

2. Therefore, upon detecting a fire, all oxygen will be removed from the stack section.

3. We'll give the librarians a few seconds to evacuate, so they have a sporting start.


I have no idea why but this pleases me on a very deep level.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:19 AM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another way to do it.

mansueto.lib.uchicago.edu
posted by lagomorphius at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've spent a fair amount of time in the Beinecke, and while I actually prefer Sterling because I am amazingly conservative for an anarchist (and why haven't we ever had a post on that cathedral of a library, which has just finished an amazing restoration?), it's a stunning building that everyone should visit at least once. The effect of the light filtering through the stone is unique and unforgettable.
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


You'll get your wish in about three hours, languagehat, unless someone wants to make a (most likely better) FPP first.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:00 PM on January 24, 2015


...previous deathtrap was replaced in 2012 by a system that uses a breathable fire suppressant gas.
There was a Yale Daily News article from 2010 that claimed the fire suppression system was still survivable before the 2012 replacement.

Also, after Yale's spectacular glass cube was built, other libraries have implemented similar systems. (ex. Dartmouth, British Library)
posted by cmchap at 1:25 PM on January 24, 2015


high tuition because pretty architecture?
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2015


I was sourcing based on the company who put in the new system. No, they didn't say that the gas would kill librarians right away but they said the new head librarian wanted it replaced for "worker safety".
posted by Hypatia at 4:58 PM on January 24, 2015


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