The James B. Hunt Library by Snøhetta for North Carolina State University.

The James B. Hunt Library by Snøhetta for North Carolina State University.

Credit: Snøhetta


Good morning, architects. The biggest topic in architecture going into 2013 is libraries. Editors lined up architecture stories to fill the holiday gap, including this panel on the future of libraries at The New York Times. That wasn't even the only big chin-scratcher on libraries that the paper ran that day. In D.C.'s recently rejuvenated public library system, The Washington Post reports, librarians are trying out new programming—including having kids read to dogs inside library buildings. Dogs in a library! Elsewhere, Mark Lamster (a contributor here at ARCHITECT) has been banging away on the subject since at least July, and just before Christmas, Lamster put a coal in Norman Foster's stocking following the release of the firm's designs for a remodeled New York Public Library. The enthusiasm for libraries didn't end with 2012. One test of what designers can do to change the frame and maybe even the structure of libraries will come in February, when the bot-enabled James B. Hunt Library designed by Snøhetta opens at North Carolina State University. Snøhetta's design is an answer to a specific question—can the library be designed to be more efficient, along nearly any parameter you want to name? (Robots help staffers nab books from staff, to name one example of Snøhetta's ostensible improvements.) But the larger conversation is based on a different question: What should libraries do? The question appears to reflect a public anxiety about spending and services that has ransacked Europe and finally arrived in the states. Spending on libraries, institutions that have broad appeal especially in an era of austerity, could be imperiled by austerity measures. 

WHAT'S IN A NAME. As The New York Times reported last week, graphic designer Michael Cronan died at 61. In an appreciation for Design Observer, Michael Beirut says that meeting the San Francisco designer changed his life.

DESIGNER VS. GOLIATH. D.C. Mud, a local real-estate blog in Washington, profiles Michael Winstanley Architects and Planners, a firm whose modest redesign for its offices in Alexandria, Va., includes modular office furniture from IKEA—but nevertheless beat out the likes of a $50 million Columbia University lab to win a National Society of American Registered Architects award.

...AND REMAINDERS. The Truth Is Out There—and so are climate-responsive buildings... New bike lanes on the Pulaski Bridge prompts Brooklyn Magazine to dive into the bridge's history... Introducing Iowa's Martin Gardner Architecture... San Francisco's Pacific Telephone Building is under renovation... A solid #longread on Las Vegas spaces... These London health centers, I can't even... Oof, an architecture-speak generator.