Biblioteca di Roma

Evan DobsonKyeong Jae Lee (website)
Yale School of Architecture

Advanced Studio
Faculty: Peter Eisenman (website), Amy Dedonato


And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Piazza dei Cinquecento is an unstructured void within the city of Rome. It is loosely bound by divergent urban forms: The autonomous figure of the Baths of Diocletian to the North, which was originally enclosed by a wall, the axial network of the Sixtus V plan, and the Modern, gridded developments, the East, aligns to the Baths of Diocletian and the West, aligns to the orientation of Termini. Modern grids adjacent to the site developed during the 19th century grew off the Sixtus V plan which was not meant to be part of a single grid led to ambiguous zones of grid collision which the proposed site is one of them.

The field of collision became the framework on which we developed the scheme of aggregation. For us, aggregation is the idea that one organizing system lays the ground upon which the next development forms. This idea of layering led us to a composite bar figure on the site.

The bar type acts as both an object, the way ancient temples of Rome frame axes, and an edge, part of the frame of the Baths of Diocletian complex as well as a threshold between Termini and the city. Simultaneously, the bar is both a filter and a receiver as the three primary axes aligned to the Termini pass through the bar, while two secondary axes aligned to the Bath of Diocletian descend down to the library below the grade.

At the Below Ground Level, interior axis occurs along the bar which is overridden by major programs; reading room, rare book collection, minor reading room, lounge, auditorium and the conference west to east. Ground Level is fragmented to become commercial spaces as well as grand lobby to either descend down the users to the reading rooms or ascend staffs to the upper level administration. Finally, Upper Level, the obvious bar contains the major body of administrative program and together with the lower level, ties the whole project into one piece.

The idea of composite bar attempts to stitch together disparate contexts through a composite figure that incorporates parts of past and present urban organizations in order to recast them into the form of the library. Biblioteca di Roma is the new gateway from the city for those who depart to the world, and the new face of the city upon arrival, laying out only the roof scape reimagining the seven hills looking over the city in front of you.



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