A Roof surrounded by Knowledge, Qatar National Athenaeum

Oct 16, 2019

The library was designed by the Rotterdam office of OMA. Like a lot of OMA’s built work, it is slightly odd, eye catching but impossible to ignore. And the building quite literally borrows from earlier OMA projects.“We started with a square then lifted two corners.” The resulting structure appears like a rocky outcrop amid a bizarre hardscape of craters and faux mounds by Dutch design firm Inside Outside that might fit as easily on the moon as in this desert setting. Massive columns, nearly four-feet wide, protrude from the building’s concrete underbelly where the main entrance is to support the entire structure and its 80-foot-long sloping spans. Circling the exterior, the library changes appearance from different angles the “pinched” corners are unquestionably the most intriguing aspect; where the building meets the ground opposite those corners, not so much. It is 485,000-square-foot building, 3,700-acre campus, master-planned by Arata Isozaki about six miles from downtown Doha. But it was developed to serve general people as well.

Regardless the books, the vast pitched main room feels more like an enclave than a library.  OMA’s early plans for the lower central space describe programming for sporting events. It now houses the traditional library where unexpected typescript are located and exhibitions mounted—its exposed sunken, mazelike, travertine-covered walls put forward the unearth pit of the Colosseum in Rome. As in the OMA design for Lab City outside Paris, parts of this pit are finished with stained-like expanses approachable to visitors and, since the building opened last November, where musicians play during recitals.

The white ceiling that spreads sunkissed

This projects primary glamour is this light-filled main space. The reflective ceiling, which sticks out 48 ½ feet at its highest point, is well pleased in glossy white glass fiber toughen plastic fascia that bounces daylight coming from the sweeping areas of glass on three sides. over 1 ½”- a thick winding brittle substance of the exterior, is standing on ones hump though it includes uniform steel rack connected to interior columns to brace against wind loads. The glass panels—insulated against temperatures that constantly greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit—are tall as 18 feet. They feature a 50 percent silver frit but no shading option.

An 82-foot wide scaffold

The sheer scale of the space is extraordinary. Where you might expect bleachers there are terraced levels with bunch and bunches of books; where you might expect to carpet, strong patterned stone. The room begins to feel too big, an 82-foot wide balcony—what OMA calls the “bridge”—distance one end of the building to the other, hanging over the central area and the heritage library below. The bridge provides open areas for study. Where it meets the back of the building—which is not on the ground—it incorporates a large, flexible, curtained auditorium. A mechanical people mover along the interior’s perimeters makes the terraced stacks accessible to the disabled and the elderly, and lets service staff transport heavy equipment. Those terraces are also bisected by twisting ramps, located more for safety reasons—to quickly remove the building in case of fire.

As a carrell,the project has already been an huge success, catching eyes over 160,000 visitors in its first four months of operation. Nearly 25 percent of its 875,000-volume collection is checked out at any given time. “For most libraries, that number is in the single digits,” says executive director Sohair F. Wastawy, who ran several university libraries in the United States and was chief librarian at the Snøhetta-designed Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

without being affected by the library’s reflection of elements from previous OMA project,  the foundation structure reflects an approach where space, light, air, views, materials, landscape, and user experience trump brazen experiments and radical form.