The New Newberry

ARCH 573 | Spring 2014
Associate Professor Vidar Lerum 

The Newberry Library has resided in Chicago for 125 years as an independent research library dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. Deconstructing and reinterpreting its mission and core activities, while conceptualizing a new home for the Newberry, becomes a starting point for form generation ap-plied to design solutions at many scales: a 21st century construct ed object with net zero environmental impact.

“The Newberry acquires and preserves a broad array of special collections research materials relating to civilization of Europe and the Americas. It promotes and provides for their effective use, fostering research, teaching, publication, and life-long learning, as well as civic engagement.”

“Our Mission”, in The Newberry Magazine, 2012.

Course Description 

With a focus on energy, materiality, and tectonic expression, students will explore the conditions and potential for environmentally responsible building designs that can make constructed contributions to a sustainable urban landscape. Students will use the Newberry Library as a source of inspiration and as a datum to reference designs of new objects and artifices. The method is one of exploration through multi- ple iterations within a framework of four consecutive studio projects. Project one (site) and three (prece- dence) are group projects lasting two weeks each, with four competing teams. Project two (parts) and four (whole) are individual projects lasting 4-5 weeks each. Project and site to be developed at an urban scale as a linear development along an elevated rail line. Energy performance will be analyzed using a direct computational link established between an energy modeling program and digital three-dimen- sional models. Each student shall construct 3-4 physical models (tectonic detail, part, whole, site).


Henri Labrouste; Bibliotheque St Genevieve; Will Bruder: Phoenix Public Library.


Lerum, V., High-Performance Building, Wiley & Sons Publishers, 2008. SSnøhetta, Powerhouse One, 2013.