These are images from the shiny, new West Hollywood Public Library designed by Johnson Favaro. Barely a week old, the library has been enjoying a bevy of publicity (including a very flattering write up in the LA Times). Indeed, there is much to admire within this project: the artworks, the ornamented surfaces and the surprisingly fancy materials. Who funded this, the Medici family? Speaking of, what’s also surprising is the replica of the vestibule from the Laurentian Library inside. You know, the 16th century library designed by Michelangelo? After being cut, pasted and dry-walled, the vestibule is now a children’s theater. But the allusion is not intended to deceive; from the outside of the theater, the plywood walls give a hint about the veneer of artificial history about to surprise you.
In his review, Hawthorne suggests that this library may be the beginning of a postmodern revival in the region; I’m not sure if he’s right, but I’ve heard several critics talk about reexamining postmodernism in the past few years. The Laurentian Library may not be embedded within your local library anytime soon, but historic forms may start reappearing in lieu of the novel and tortured geometries that punctuate many architecture projects under construction. Whether the horizon is full of more history or more blobs is anybody’s guess, and it will probably be both. Hundreds more photos of the project, including the ones above, can be found here.