Unique design draws visitors to Stuttgart public library
October 4, 2016
The building is only 5 years old, perhaps still too young to be deemed an architectural icon synonymous with the city itself.
But the eye-catching Stuttgart Stadtbibliothek — the public library — is on its way. Anyone who has driven through Stuttgart has seen it — the big white cube stands along one of the major thoroughfares cutting through the city. It demands your attention. At night, the library is illuminated, shining blue.
Given that the building is about books, and mostly German ones, perhaps the city library is an unlikely destination for Americans stationed here. But the building itself is worth a visit.
The $80 million facility, designed by South Korean architect Eun Young Yi, opened in 2011 to anchor the city’s new Europa district, a zone of new construction that has been filled in with a major mall, apartments and office space.
The facade of the library, which is nine stories, is concrete and glass bricks. What is most striking when you enter the building is the empty center core, which takes up a large amount of space in the first four floors. The core’s only purpose is being a place of calm. Light enters from a small skylight.
The top floors are an open gallery, giving an airy feel despite all the books. Critics might say that’s what’s wrong with the place. It’s spacey when big city libraries should be stuffy and weighty. Smelly even. Not breezy. To critics, I say, embrace your feng shui.
On the top floor is a cafe. The roof, also open to visitors, gives a good panorama of Stuttgart in all directions. This is the preferred place for teenagers, who seem to hang out there rather than inside.
For American visitors who are more bookworms than architecture buffs, the library has a decent English section on the fifth floor, with hundreds of books. The multimedia area has a huge collection of popular music, movies and television shows. American cultural dominance in these areas means a strong U.S. representation.
The children’s section, on the second floor, also has a small but interesting English selection.
For Americans, some discoveries await. There are the obvious greatest hits — “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” for example. But there also are some big hits from the United Kingdom that are less known in the U.S. I’ve discovered it doesn’t get much better than “Stick Man,” “The Gruffalo” and “Room on the Broom,” works by English author Julia Donaldson.
So come for the building, stay for the books.
Location: Mailander Platz 1. North of the Stuttgart main train station, directly off road B-27, next to the Milaneo mall, where there is paid parking.
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
Entrance is free.
There is a cafe on site and next door there are scores of restaurants as well as a Starbucks.
Website: www1.stuttgart.de/ stadtbibliothek in German only.