Medical Library at Case Western University

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Related people
Rachel Seifert (designer)
Stephen Turk (studio professor)
Autumn 2017
North and Central America->United States->Ohio->Cleveland->Case Western Reserve University
This was a student project by Rachel Seifert for Stephen Turk's course ARCH 3410 in Autumn 2017.
" The purpose of the Medical Library Tower is to represent the path a general doctor must take in order to advance into a more specialized field such as cardiology, psychiatry, or surgery. Therefore, the building possesses a recurring gradient from generalized to specific. For example, the program of the building at the bottom of the tower is geared towards the generalized population of people, and gradually transitions to favor the more specialized group of the actual medical students towards the top. This results in larger, more open spaces at the bottom like the lounge, auditorium, and café, to the more private, labyrinth-like spaces at the top like the individual study carrels and computer work stations.
One of the most prominent features of the medical library is the design of the book stacks. Each stack is a slender, vertically uninterrupted void in the building that also acts as a light cannon. When one is standing underneath one of the book chambers, he or she can look up into the seemingly endless void, and see the books through the glass walls as light flushes down from the top, creating a concurring sense of knowledge and enlightenment. Furthermore, the stacks are meant to be a microcosm of the building as a whole, not only in their extreme verticality, but also in their subject matter – the genre of the books are generalized towards the bottom and gradually become more specific towards the top.
Lastly, the circulation through the building is based on the alliance of two systems – one continuous surface circulation path and one folded plate system. The two systems work together, beginning in the exterior garden and ending at the top of the tower. The relentless system of ramps through such a tall building represents the determination it takes to become a doctor, and allows one to observe the stages of the journey through the shift in the nature of the spaces, and the resultant demeanor of the students. The final ramp of the folded plate system takes you into the medical museum, a very grand, open space amidst the top floor’s labyrinth of smaller study spaces, allowing some relief after completing both the literal journey through the building, and the metaphorical journey to becoming a specialized professional in the medical field. Being the last stop in the building, the medical museum forces occupants to observe the medical relics, and reflect on their accomplishments.
Overall, the extreme height of the tower is meant to represent the long, drawn-out journey to becoming a doctor, and the nature of the spaces, circulation, and subject matter of the book stacks possess a gradient in section from generalized to specified. " - Rachel Seifert
ARCH 3410
Academic Class