Assabil Public Library

This project is one of twelve libraries planned by Assabil, a Lebanese NGO founded in 1997 to establish and support public libraries in Lebanon, for construction in the downtown Beirut area. The goal of these libraries, as stipulated by Assabil, is to make information and imagination available to everyone in order to help transform Lebanon into a solid and legitimate democracy after years of turmoil. The site is located in the Caracas residential neighborhood of Ras Beirut, in close proximity to many large universities, the seaside corniche, and the popular Hamra Street. While these attractions are still of major importance to the area and to the city as a whole, the neighborhood is in need of a spark plug to revive the tip of the city and generate excitement and pride from residents who have been worn out by the civil war and continuing violence in the area. The project goes beyond the typical use of a library, combining the traditional reading and computer rooms with a roof garden, children’s area, auditorium, and outdoor terrace into a downward sloping design. Due to the site’s constraints, it is difficult to have two means of egress and handicap access. As such, an ADA ramp doubles as the stacks, turning this circulation necessity into a unifying element among the library’s different functions and into its expressive exterior profile. Given the tight budget, the building will be built out of poured in place, pigmented concrete, with different color pigments used to emphasize its sloping profile and achieve a mural-like character on the exterior of the building. The library is lit naturally with a skylight that covers over the atrium space in the stacks introducing indirect light into the reading rooms and other floors. This creates an ambient lighting condition that is more desirable for a library. Individual windows are placed in the reading rooms and stack areas where necessary in order to provide focused light for specific space.


Project Team: Hashim Sarkis, Cynthia Gunadi (Project Coordinator), Daniel Stanislaw