The impressive procession of state government and other institutional buildings reaches its apex at this bold, modernistic statement in limestone, glass, and aluminum. Craig Hartman of the San Francisco office of SOM was the design partner. Despite its nod to urbanism—battered granite walls at the ground level, three sweeping canopies marking the main entrance, and even display windows to entice would-be patrons inside—the building is unsatisfactorily sited. It is aligned neither with the setback of City Hall, to the east, nor with Theater Row to its west. Thus the bulky building seems oddly in limbo. But the library's central atrium is an impressive, light-filled space and serves to orient the visitor visually to the library's offerings. A gently tapering flight of granite steps entices patrons from the lobby to the reading rooms and research spaces on the second level. Taken as a whole, the interior lifts the spirits and inspires—something that powerful architecture should do.
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Library of Virginia
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