Sunday, June 2, 2013

New Modernism on the Berkeley Campus

C.V. Starr East Asian Library
Photo ©Darren Bradley
One final post about my quick trip to Berkeley. I spotted this building while walking across campus, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. 

At first glance, I wasn't sure if it was new, or just a recently refurbished mid-century modern building. The gold screens and simple forms certainly evoked Late Modernism of the 60s, but there were other elements (those vertical wings) which seemed more recent. 

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is the work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. This NYC-based architecture team (husband and wife, to boot), have been in the news quite a bit lately do to MoMA's ridiculous intention to tear down one of their masterpieces there, the Folk Art Museum.

This library above was also the subject of a fair amount of controversy, and nearly didn't get built as a result. It was first introduced and planned in about 2004, and finally opened in 2008. Opponents complained that it would interrupt sight lines on campus, and diminish the dignity of the other, more traditional and classical buildings surrounding it. I don't see that at all, and it's a great addition to the school. It's also very interesting inside, but I wasn't able to get in then so no photos! 

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