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WARSAW UNIVERSITY LIBRARY - NEW LIBRARY BUILDING

The first separate library building at the Warsaw University was erected in 1895, during the Russian occupation. It was a typical tripartite library designed for about 750,000 items. This capacity was exceeded in the thirties. Plans for a new edifice were being pushed for next 50 years, but never came into being. When Poland became a democracy, in 1989 we had initially the idea of moving our Library to a the huge and monumental office building belonging to the former communist party, but it appeared impossible for technical reasons. Then, the government with prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki decided to rent this building to certain financial and commercial institutions (among others Warsaw Stock Exchange) and to use income thus generated to finance the construction of a new library building.

The city of Warsaw responded by granting the University a piece of land between the main campus and the bank of Vistula. Then, new requirements were written down by the Library, with the open stacks as the essential novelty. An architectural contest followed in 1993. We received fifty designs, most of them full of very interesting, creative solutions. The design by Marek Budzy?ski & Zbigniew Badowski, was awarded with 1st prize and plans went ahead to see the design through.

What did the architects have for the librarians? The main theme could be described as "a city in woods" - a library surrounded by botanical gardens, with plants covering the sides and the roof of the structure, and the main entrance to the library hidden in a "Lane" - a glass-covered North-South (roughly) pedestrian passage with main entrances on both ends, leading to office space for rent on the Western side and the actual library on the eastern side. The building has 4 storeys and 2 additional storeys below the ground level. The lowest level is used as a parking lot, the second lowest level is temporarily rented out as a bowling center, and it will accomodate an extra compact storage in the future, so it is not likely the library will be in need of space before the demise of printed book.

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Additional Photos by Wojtek Bartz (adalbert) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 74 W: 4 N: 22] (1323)
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