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The Philadelphia Athenaeum

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia was founded in 1814 as an independent member-supported library to engage members, scholars, and the public in the intellectual life of Philadelphia. The institution’s current building was designed in 1845 in the Italianate Revival Style and remains a cherished heritage building in the city. As a finalist in a competition to reimagine the Athenaeum of the future, the proposal is a celebration of the historical artifacts housed within. Through modification of the spaces, drawings, photographs, relics, and artifacts are brought forward to engage new visitors. The primary exterior wall becomes an exhibit surface to feature the drawings and art of the collection.

 
 
 
 
“A facade that reflects the meter and measure of it's programatic organization.”

- Rt
 
 
The role of the library continues to evolve in modern society. From this historic approach of a member-supported amenity, to the Free Libraries of Philadelphia that followed, and on to the endless availability of digital information today, the question remains, how best to serve the public and a community. The design solution seeks transparency and accessibility to the rich history and vast resources within the historic walls.