Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Courtesy Harvard GSD Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


A current Harvard University Graduate School of Design exhibition, Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries, is a pilgrimage through some of the world’s most significant guardians of knowledge: national libraries.

Courtesy Justin Knight


The libraries, “monumental in scale, dominated by nationalistic ambitions and overwhelming with architectural details,”— according to Dvir and Rauchwerger, are prominent symbols of cultural legacies as well as beneficiaries of national resources.

Reading Room, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Courtesy Vincent Desjardins Reading Room, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris


The exhibition, curated by Harvard GSD alums Noam Dvir and Daniel Rauchwerger—collectively, We Are Young Architects— analytically examines significant similarities and patterns that recur through some of the more outwardly diverse library buildings. The research-led project originated as a competition entry for the design of Israel’s new national library in Jerusalem, and eventually led Rauchwerger to begin recording an architectural catalogue of libraries. Two years later, Rauchwerger and Dvir’s collaborative effort was recognized in Harvard Design Magazine’s 38th issue, “Do You Read Me?”.

Courtesy Justin Knight


All materials on display, including models, a 36-foot-long mural containing approximately 40 drawings, and other artifacts are original work by Rauchwerger and Dvir. The large set of drawings were designed for the exhibition to help illustrate its ideology, and a student exhibition team led by Benjamin Albrecht orchestrated the exhibition’s design.

Courtesy Justin Knight


Icons of Knowledge will be displayed until March 22 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please follow the link.

Courtesy Justin Knight

Courtesy Justin Knight


Courtesy Justin Knight


King Fahd National Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Courtesy Harvard GSD King Fahd National Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Courtesy Harvard GSD