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Poetry Foundation in Chicago, Illinois by John Ronan Architects
January 18th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: John Ronan Architects
The Poetry Foundation is comprised of a building in dialogue with a garden created through erosion of an implied volume as described by the L-shaped property boundary. The garden interlocks with the building and is conceived as another “room,” part of the building’s slowly-unfolding spatial sequence revealed space by space, not unlike a poem is revealed line by line.
Visitors enter through the garden, an urban sanctuary that mediates between the street and enclosed building. Entering the garden, visitors first encounter the library space, announcing that they are entering into a literary environment. Inside, an exhibition gallery connects the library to the performance space, where visitors listen to poets read their work against the backdrop of the garden.
Public functions (performance space, gallery and library) are located on the ground floor, while office spaces are located on the second level, organized into three areas (Foundation Administration, Poetry magazine/website, and Programs). The building is configured to allow for views from all spaces out onto the garden.
Tectonically, the building is conceived of as a series of layers that visitors move through and between. Layers, of zinc, glass, and wood, peel apart to define the various spaces of the building. The building’s outer layer of oxidized zinc becomes perforated where it borders the garden, allowing visual access to the garden from the street to encourage public investigation.
This building unfolds as it is experienced and is sublime in its stillness and detailing. From the street, one is seduced by is secrecy and upon entering its crafted inner court, the project is revealed much like a poetry reading. The manipulation of light through sectional explorations and the weaving of its limited material use through its interiors are resolved exceptionally well.
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