COSTILLA

Technology, Steel and Dissemination of Knowledge



typology             
academic, competition

location               
carnegie mellon university, pittsburgh, pa, usa

date                 
spring 2015

duration                     

5 months
collaboration

Jose Pertierra

Our proposal for the ACSA Steel Design Competition provided us with an opportunity to dedicate our attention to investigate a comprehensive material system. By using plate steel as the component, we were able to develop a multiplicity of conditions in which the structural depth was used to merge building systems and skin into a single element. As a result, the value of the steel transcended from inside to outside - unifying the tectonic expression to be read as a holistic architectural strategy.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Library was built in 1960 to accommodate a fraction of the students that attend today. Even though the library facilities have yet to expand proportionally, studies suggest that the amount of content that circulates has actually decreased with the mass digitization. This shift can be traced farther back in time to the mechanization of the printing process, in which the library sought less to be purely a container of books. Libraries, today, accommodate information no longer formally restricted to print, which has challenged the building type to reshape itself to embrace new forms of mass communication. Knowledge and entertainment are now found in an open source exchange environment serving an increasingly diverse audience. With this, architects are challenged with envisioning the library as more than a place to store knowledge but as a place in which to share it.

This design utilizes the ground plane to mediate between the various elevations of the site and raises the architecture above - allowing the building to expose the learning process it houses to the surrounding community.

Traditionally, the library was a space in which large quantities of knowledge were archived. In ancient civilizations, published records were of particular value due to their originality. Prior to the mechanization of the printing process, published records were collected and managed by a very selective group of people-in many cases, never to be shared with the general public.

With the invention of the printing press, mass production of printed documents enabled the unrestricted dissemination of knowledge. This technological advance and the expanding literacy marked the birth of the public library. Information was no longer solely collected but curated and spread. Throughout history, the public library provided access to resources that significantly augmented intellectual progress.

As the media used to store data evolved, as did their containers. Libraries accommodate information no longer formally restricted to print, which has challenged the building type to reshape itself to embrace new 

forms of mass communication. Knowledge and entertainment are now found in an open source exchange environment serving an increasingly diverse audience. With this, architects are challenged with envisioning the library as more than a place to store knowledge but as a place in which to share it. Despite the increased accessibility of information no longer bound to the book, the library still plays a critical role as a cultural agent in the community.

How does the library accommodate for today and in the future?

Programmatically, this library focuses on the exchange of knowledge as more important in the dissemination of information rather than resorting to maintaining the need for printed material to be in circulation. This design proposal incorporates a book bot, a storage unit in the basement that will accommodate the issues of today and speculate the use of this space as a place for data storage in the future. Stacks of books are organized in a shelving unit in which the robot retrieves the book that the user requires. The focus of spaces for group study or individual spaces reside in majority of the program of the building.

As the library offers other forms of learning, the program of the proposal offers spaces to learn by doing. Having digital fabrication equipment along with work spaces and exhibition space offers opportunities for students to generate work flows and learn how machines work as tools to aid in their solution to design problems. The making space is the vatrine to visitors to demonstrate the ideals the school follows, integration of arts and sciences. The second bar is the majority of the open spaces for collaboration and study, accessing most of the southern light and connection other program.

Connection to the Miller Gallery, the on campus art gallery was integrated into the program as a proper entrance and additional gallery space would make this more of an attraction on campus.
Additionally, on the site of the library proposal, two buildings, Warner and Cyert Hall, program, primarily the data storage and web stations are also considered. The library of CMU’s campus is the threshold to campus, showcasing the work and rigor of the school for today and the future.

Joel McCullough Copyright 2020