The Geisel Library is the main library of the University of California San Diego. The building was designed by architect William Pereira and opened in 1970. The building gained its present name in 1995, when it was named after Theodor Seuss Geisel, author of children’s books
William Pereira is the designer of many modernist buildings. Born in 1909, the architect designed, among others, the Theme Building for Los Angeles Airport or the famous Transamerica ‘pyramid’ in San Francisco. However, it is the University Library in San Diego that has become his most famous work. The iconic nature of the edifice is evidenced by the use of its image in the university’s logo – it is the most recognisable building on campus
In designing the building, the architect combined elements of modernism and brutalism. The edifice rises on concrete pillars, with the individual storeys increasing in area upwards to symmetrically reduce the area of the top storeys. The overall design is symmetrical, with one part of the building mirroring the other
The distinctive design is meant to evoke a stack of books, which are erected on a reinforced concrete structure. The architect has succeeded in realising a terraced premise that seems to be immune to passing trends. The edifice is more than 50 years old, and it is safe to say that it looks contemporary. In total, the Geisel Library is 33.5 metres high, with two underground storeys and five above-ground storeys. The latter are heavily glazed and offer views of the entire university campus
Interestingly, the floors are numbered from the lowest to the highest, but they start with the underground ones. Therefore, the level we would call the ground floor is numbered ‘3’ and the last (fifth) floor is numbered 8
The library has over 7 million volumes in its collection, including books, drawings, sketches, audio tapes, photographs and films. Most of the collection is housed in the archives on the underground floors, while the upper floors are spaces for individual work and classrooms for group activities
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