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Wise Library

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1929–1931, Davis, Dunlop, and Barney. 1951. Southeast of Clark Hall set back from University Ave.
  • (West Virginia University)
  • (Photograph by Rhonda L. Reymond)
  • (Photograph by Rhonda L. Reymond)
  • (Photograph by Rhonda L. Reymond)

Recessed between Clark and White halls (see next entry), the university's main library forms the base of an open-ended, U-shaped quadrangle that recalls a similar arrangement at Woodburn Circle. A formally arranged composition, Wise has an impressive main entrance faced with Indiana limestone, with the state seal carved in a shield over the doorway. One-bay brick wings project to either side. When the building opened in 1931, only the first two stories had been built. Davis advised the contractors to cover the building with a temporary roof, anticipating the eventual construction of the five-story stack tower. The tower was built to his original designs in 1951, transforming an essentially horizontal mass into the only vertically oriented building on the downtown campus. Wise Library, so named in 1984 to honor an alumnus, is one of Davis's most accomplished designs at the university. The building depends primarily on proportions and massing for its effect, while its stripped-classical details avoid the heaviness that characterizes some of his work.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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