Master of Fine Arts
This project will re-conceive a historic movie theater, honoring the program of the building as it was originally intended, while introducing a new programmatic element: the library. Instead of this large space only being used in the evenings for movie showings, it will now also be a place for the public to gather during the day as a popular materials library. This project is an exploration of diversion through literature and cinema. This space will continue to be a landmark in Richmond and a place community members visit on a regular basis.
How do new elements introduced into a historic building respond to the existing ornamentation? How do two different programs meet one another and share a space? What makes for a successful and honorable adaptive reuse of a building? Why is diversion important?
The methods used for this project were to study large scale, recently constructed library projects like the Helsinki Central Library Oodi to understand the world’s latest and best strategies in library design programmatically and architecturally. This project is not on the same scale as these institutions, so a study of recent award-winning branch libraries was relevant as well. An interview was conducted with local designer, Shannon Wray, who was on the team that recently completed two such branch libraries in Central Virginia. Precedent studies were conducted of movie theaters and libraries throughout history.
At new libraries like the Oodi in Helsinki, at least half of the square footage of the library building is no longer dedicated to books and instead dedicated to meeting spaces, maker spaces, art galleries, space for pop up markets, theaters, and play space (Tucker, 2019). The library building itself is an architectural attraction that brings in locals and tourists alike (Krueger, 2019).
Reading a book and watching a movie are diversions. A library focused purely on entertainment will be better utilized than a traditional library. A better utilized civic space will lead to greater education, interaction between cultures, community engagement and economic well-being in the community.
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