15 Stunning University Libraries Around the World You Need to See

Architectural Digest

From an early-14th-century reading room in the Sorbonne to an ultra-modern library at the University of Chicago, AD surveys 15 of the most stunning university libraries around the world

1. Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Completed in 1891 by architect Frank Furness, the Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1985. The following year the library launched a four-year, $16.5 million restoration led by a team that included Venturi, Scott Brown & Assoc., CLIO Group, and Marianna Thomas Architects.

2. Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford University, Oxford, England

Built in 1488, Duke Humfrey’s Library at Oxford University is the oldest part of the Bodleian Library, a group of five buildings that range in date from the late medieval period to the early 20th century.

3. Suzzallo Library, University of Washington, Seattle

Devised by Seattle architects Carl F. Gould Sr. and Charles H. Bebb, the Gothic-style Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington opened in 1926.

4. Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

The Peabody Library, which opened in 1878, was designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University’s first provost, Nathaniel H. Morison. Rising 61 feet, the central atrium features five tiers of cast-iron balconies, creating a dramatic effect.

5. Queen’s College Library, Oxford University, Oxford, England

The architect of the Queen’s College Library at Oxford University, built between 1692 and 1695, is unknown, but research suggests that credit should go to Henry Aldrich, the then-dean of Christ Church, who designed other buildings in Oxford, or Timothy Halton, the provost of the Queen’s College at the time the library was built.

6. Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, University of Chicago, Chicago

The glass dome design of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library has received numerous awards (such as the GE Edison Award of Merit) since the building’s completion in 2011. Architect Helmut Jahn included solar-controlled glass overhead while ensuring ample interior space for University of Chicago students to utilize while studying.

7. Linderman Library, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Opened in 1878, the Linderman Library was designed by Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton, who modeled the Venetian architecture after the British Museum in London.

8. Uris Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Designed by Cornell’s first architecture student, William Henry Miller, whose portrait hangs on the north wall of the lobby, Uris Library first opened its doors in October 1861.

9. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA, Los Angeles

Constructed between 1924 and 1926 by architect Robert D. Farquhar, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library was financed by philanthropist William Andrews Clark Jr. (who also founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic) to house his growing collection of rare books.

10. University of Salamanca Library, Salamanca, Spain

The library at the University of Salamanca was constructed in the 16th century.

11. Reading Room Saint-Jacques, Library of the Sorbonne, Paris-Sorbonne University, Paris

Originally opened in 1328, the Reading Room Saint-Jacques at the Library of the Sorbonne in Paris was restored between 1885 and 1901 by the French architect Henri Paul Nénot.

12. Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England

Completed in 1695 by Sir Christopher Wren, the Wren Library of Trinity College at Cambridge University contains more than a thousand medieval manuscripts; many books from Sir Isaac Newton’s personal collection; a compilation of early Shakespeare editions; the Rothschild collection of 18th-century English literature; and A.A. Milne’s manuscripts of Winnie-the-Poohand The House at Pooh Corner.

13. Loyola Information Commons, Loyola University Chicago

Built in 2007 by local firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the Loyola Information Commons at Loyola University Chicago gives students unparalleled views of Lake Michigan.

14. Trinity College Library, University of Dublin

Not only is Trinity College Library at the University of Dublin the largest library in the country, but it’s among the most beautiful as well. The main section of the Long Room (pictured) was built in the early 18th century. Today, it contains roughly 200,000 of the library’s oldest books.

15. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University is arguably the most unique building on a campus of stunning structures. Completed in 1963 by American architect Gordon Bunshaft, the library is lined with marble on the inside to enhance the minimal lighting (which helps keep the rare books from being damaged).

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