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Architect to show drawings

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Antoine Predock helps celebrate Mesa Public Library’s 16th anniversary

By Special to the Monitor

On Sept. 10, 1994 more than 100 volunteers began moving 125,000 items from the old library to the new Mesa Public Library. Children loaded books into red wagons and hauled them several blocks up Central Avenue.

By Sept. 14 and ahead of schedule, all the items were in their brand new home. Since then, the library has grown up, becoming one of the best-loved and most used institutions in Los Alamos. Celebrate this sweet 16th anniversary with an exhibit of the works of Mesa Public Library architect, Antoine Predock.

The acclaimed architect will show preliminary site sketches and drawings, travel drawings, international project proposals and a progression of the Mesa Public Library project from initial sketches to clay model; working drawings to finished structure.

The exhibit will also include a special selection of recent photographs of the library by noted architectural photographer Robert Reck.

The inspiration for the exhibition came from former County Council Chairman Lawry Mann. Mann, along with Chair of the Building Committee Ken Milder and then-Library Director Mary Pat Kraemer, was one of the driving forces behind the building project. Other members of the building committee that made this dream a reality included: Ed Bemis, Charles Tallman, John Rogers and Kyle Wheeler. Mann, who also co-chaired the Los Alamos 60th Anniversary Committee, suggested the exhibit as a fitting celebration of a milestone in the county history.

About Antoine Predock

Antoine Predock is the recipient of numerous awards including the AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor the American Institute of Architects bestows on an architect.

He became the 62nd recipient of the medal in 2006, joining such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, I.M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright and others. In his speech awarding the medal to Predock, Thomas Howorth of the AIA said, “Antoine Predock designs buildings that grow out of their unique landscapes, creating, at the same time, symbols that are fearlessly expressive and sincere, simultaneously complex and guileless.”

The Mesa Public Library building is certainly expressive of that statement. Predock noted, in Paul Weideman’s Los Alamos Monitor article of Oct. 9, 1994, that his design is, “…a direct response to the panorama … and is keyed to the site, totally.”

The arc and wedge shape of the building are inspired by the local landscape: “ I thought of the ‘wedge’ as analogous to the tufa promontories that are common in the interstitial zone, and it speaks to the cataclysm of the land forms … The color of the concrete blocks alludes to what’s found in nature there.

Then there are cliff like sections and the spire of the wedge.”  He went on the reflect on the concept of library, “ I think a library should be charged with meaning, mystery and delight … there are spaces (in this building) that show some of this mystery.”

Predock noted the interplay of enclosed, cellular areas reminiscent of cliff dwellings and wide-open spaces of the stack areas with the panoramic views of the mountains. “The building, then, is a metaphor for living in New Mexico and dealing with the space here.”

He also expressed his wish for those using the library: “There are some very idiosyncratic spaces that people may discover. I hope that people will explore it and discover the building-that they’ll find places they like to cuddle with a book and also explore (the building and grounds) seasonally, with different light and weather.”

Since Predock made these statements, patrons and visitors have made hundreds of thousands of visits each year to Mesa Public Library, each perhaps discovering their own favorite nooks and inspiring views.

Over the years, Predock has designed award-winning projects all over the world. The exhibition will include an in-depth look at one of his most famous projects, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.

It also seems fitting to feature architecture in relation to Los Alamos’ recent designation as one of only five Arts and Cultural Districts in New Mexico.

The blend of art and engineering is a perfect mix to also celebrate the Los Alamos Arts and Cultural District, a designation awarded in part for the emphasis on the creativity inherent to science as well as the arts.

Visit www.predock.com for more information.