New York-based online cultural guide Flavorpill has compiled a list of the world's 25 most beautiful public libraries and Vancouver's Central Public Library has impressed the jury all the way up to the number two spot.
Open File Vancouver (via Price Tags) caught the accolade and helped the story go viral, where it has been re-posted more than 15,000 times via social networking sites such as Facebook. Not bad for a list about places to read real, tangible books.
Flavorpill explained its initiative as a desire to honour public libraries (as opposed to college or private libraries), as they are places where "anyone can enter and partake of knowledge they offer, where anyone can engage with history, literature and culture." Though they noted the books are of supreme importance, the culture lovers wanted to draw attention to the beautiful spaces that house and protect our literary classics.
Tourist hotspots — like the Vatican library — and destinations that double as museums were taken out of the running, leaving room for the public places whose primary function is to supply people with books in an aesthetically lovely environment.
The Vennesla Library and Culture House in Vennesla, Norway came in first for its innovative use of open space and bold design incorporating glass and urban loggia.
Vancouver's very own book hub ranked second, grabbing top marks for its Roman amphitheatre-style exterior and bright study areas linked by bridges. Though his design was considered the most radical of the lot, architect Moshe Safdie (the one responsible for Montreal's Habitat 67 and Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada) got the chance to execute his vision after winning a city-run design contest.
Construction for the Central Public Library ran from 1993 to 1995 and the project is still considered one of Vancouver's costliest, so the recognition is probably a welcome development.
Rounding out Flavorpill's list of top five finalists is the Kanazawa Umimirai Library in Kanazawa, Japan, the Bristol Central Library in Bristol, U.K. and the Royal Danish Library (the Black Diamond) in Copenhagen, Denmark.