Poetry may be a dying art, but Line and Space LLC have shed plenty of natural light on one of America's most impressive contemporary collections at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Although it goes far to illuminate words for poetry lovers, Arizona's harsh desert sun requires a lot of mechanical cooling and has a harsh impact on paper, which is why the architects had to come up with inventive ways to restrict how much light comes into this massive building. Several passive interventions reduce the Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center's massive energy load without ruining the reading experience. And to enhance the reading experience, an inviting bamboo garden was added onto the building's quieter end.
The University sought a mix between community and solitude, and a well-lit building that also protects its archives from too much light. Line and Space responded to this challenge by creating an internal progression from noisy spaces in the west to more contemplative areas on the eastern side of the building. Holes punched out of translucent roof planes provide diffused daylighting while the southern windows have overhangs that block out the most severe daytime sun. The overhangs also shade an outdoor performance theater, where students and the public are invited to make poetry a communal affair.
On the far eastern side of this 18,000 square foot building, which houses 50,000 shelved volumes, is a bamboo garden that not only gives a good green lift to the somewhat industrial-looking center, but also creates an inspiring space in which readers can enjoy their solitude. This building is massive, but books are important, so we applaud the effort to care for them in as sustainable a manner as possible.
All images © Robert Reck Photography
Via Arch Daily