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  1. In the 1960s, Northwestern University embarked on a construction frenzy. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill engineered the reclamation of 75-ish acres from Lake Michigan to roughly double the size of the university's campus in Evanston, Illinois. At the same time, Walter Netsch, an architect at SOM, was appointed to design several buildings, including University Library, for the new land. This is what he came up with. In plan, the design consists of a plaza oriented on an east-west axis, flanked by towers to the north, south, and east. Corridors on the west end of the library connect to the university's existing library, built in 1932-33. Netsch's concept, designed for the oncoming Digital Age, was that each of the three towers, organized around a central block, should house a different collection. Shelves in the stacks are arranged as spokes on a wheel so that a student should consult the computerized catalog in the center of the wheel to locate and obtain the desired material in minimum time with minimal hassle. It was, and perhaps still is, university policy that all buildings must be faced with limestone. Limestone is much too tasteful for Brutalist architecture, though, so University Library, and most of Netsch's other works on Northwestern's campus, are textured to make the limestone look like concrete. In the original plan, the central block from which the towers diverge was meant to be the entrance. Instead, Netsch's design was changed so the weird octagon thing became the entrance, because it is closer to the university's existing library. The central core still contains the elevators and bathrooms, but the intended entrance hall is now a cafe. Netsch raised the library's stacks on columns so that a person standing on the plaza, looking to the east, would have an uninterrupted view of Lake Michigan and the horizon. I'm sure it would have been a nice view, but Netsch's design was subverted in 1971 by the construction of another building immediately to the east of the library. I really don't like this building, but it was fun to design an architecture-type model based on it. All these images were rendered using Bluerender. Thanks for looking!