Beinecke Rare Book Library
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Architect Gordon Bunshaft/ SOM
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Location New Haven, Connecticut   map
Date 1963   timeline
Building Type library
 Construction System marble and
Climate temperate
Context urban campus
Style Modern
Notes at Yale University. light enters interior through thin marble.






Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Discussion Beinecke Rare Book Library Commentary

"...The architect thought of the library as a treasure house of rare books whose presence ought to be emphasized. This led to the idea of housing about 160,000 volumes on six levels within the 35 x 60-foot glass shaft in the center of the building, resting the weight of most of the books on the slab at the building's base rather than on intermediate floors, and providing a central element to help support the roof. The column of books is surrounded by a ground floor and a mezzanine with display cases. A lower level houses offices, a scholars' reading room, and the control desk for mechanical systems. Readers and some offices face a sunken open-air courtyard in the traditional arrangement of a cloister scriptorium."

— from Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. p141-143, 145.

The Creator's Words

"I think it is one of the half-dozen best buildings I've done in my life. It's the only building I've been involved in that has an emotional impact."

— Gordon Bunshaft. from Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. p146.

"A bold idea, plus precision, care, and thought make a good building."

— Gordon Bunshaft. from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p370.

Sources on Beinecke Rare Book Library

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. discussion p370.

Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. New York: The Architectural History Foundation, 1988. ISBN 0-262-11130-6. NA737.B84K75 1988. discussion p141-143, 145, 146.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p105. color interior photo, p106. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by a true master of architectural photography. Available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Beinecke Rare Book Library


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