San Antonio Central Library
600 Soledad at Navarro Street
San Antonio, TX
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
Built by an award-winning architect, this place exemplifies the type of object-focused architecture that is unconnected to anything around it.
Why, of all buildings, should a library be totally isolated from the rest of the community? San Antonio's Library, designed by award-winning architect Ricardo Legorreta Vilchis, excels at setting itself apart from the city - even though it's in the heart of downtown. Its lack of access creates a denigrating human environment for anyone arriving by bus (bus stops are located along a huge blank wall, far from the entrance) or by car (in which case one is simply swallowed up by a garage).
With an aesthetic that might be dubbed "dressed-up Home Depot," this building has no sense as a place in which one can do anything more than drive by blank walls. It's very arrogant in this regard, holding itself apart as a prima donna place whose immediate surroundings are frosty, barren, and downright boring. This lack of connection to other uses or activities downtown is truly a shame, because the inside of this building is apparently very popular with citizens and visitors alike. What a lost opportunity: Think of what downtown San Antonio could be like if those thousands of daily library users had great places to go when they left the building - instead of being funneled back into the parking garage or dismissed at a bad bus stop.
History & Background
The 240,000 square-foot building was designed by Legorreta Arquitectos of Mexico City; it opened in 1995.
Library phone: 210-207-2500