Vasconcelos Library: beyond the structure.  

Written by Alejandra Quiroz Hernández

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All the paths lead you to the Vasconcelos Library: situated in a very well communicated zone, this library welcomes people form within and outside Mexico City. It’s mostly because it’s surrounded by three major networks of public transportation that have a terminal in Buenavista, just next to the center of the city. Since it’s opening, the Vasconcelos Library has been featured in a number of articles about modern libraries and contemporary architecture. This, of course, is a matter of pride. However, it’s very little said about the projects it has developed in a nation without a long library tradition.

The Library was built because of an International Architecture Contest to build the new public library of Mexico City. Issued in 2003, the contest was won by the project leaded by Alberto Kalach and partners of TAX Architects. The library was opened to the public on May 16th, 2006. Many people has visited the Library, mostly because of the hanging shelves and futuristic structure of the inside -very instagrammable even before this concept was coined. As you enter the building, most visitors open their mouths or even have their jaws dropped but the amazement has just begun. One of the many surprises is the suspended skeleton in the middle of the building. Almost every visitor tries to guess what creature it is. The main conclusion is that it has to be a dinosaur and they are often surprised when they find out it’s a gray whale! Matrix Móvil is the title of the sculpture created by Gabriel Orozco specially for the Library.

Luckily, for the last six years, the Library has been more than just a beautiful building: life has finally conquered it. As any good library in the World, Vasconcelos Library has been a refugee to all kinds of persons willing to know, create, practice or even sleep. You are welcome to make the most of this building that is 300 meters long and seven stories high. In the base ground you will find specialized services such as: Braille Room, Sign Language Room, Music Room, Audiovisual Room as well as the Babies and Children Room. The auditorium is located on the north of the building, practically underground. The top floor houses 15 different collections, organized in a very different fashion than the rest of the collection and 12 rooms for activities such as workshops, seminars and book clubs.

The building is surrounded by 26, 000 square meters of gardens composed by endemic species such as ahuehuete, a very large tree similar to the cypress, mexican hawthorn, prickly pears, cactus, succulents, mexican maple tree, among others. They are often used by musicians that come to rehearse in open air as well as drama groups. Families and couples also make the most of it because the grass invites you to rest and watch the sky for a while. When the weather allows it, the gardens are the scenery for their adaptation of the Human Library.

When planning your visit, consider that the Library is opened most days except for National Holidays. Photographs are welcome but when using professional cameras, you must register yourself at the director’s office, provide a photo ID and sign a declaration that the use of the photos is not commercial. Every visitor must leave their backpacks at the storage, located under the stairs. The library has a free parking lot for cars and bikes. If you are looking for more than just a visit, check out the activities program and plan ahead!

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