Today, the public library must serve as an active community center and as an archive of knowledge that contains quiet spaces for study. The Datong Library embodies this double function in a pair of spaces, a courtyard and an atrium. Arrayed around the courtyard are informal reading rooms, classrooms, a gallery, and an auditorium. The atrium is surrounded by a continuous four storey switchback ramp, lined with bookshelves and study carrels. Tying the stack and reading areas together perceptually, the book ramp is a typological variation on Asplund's Stockholm Library.

The form of the building was computationally parameterized which allowed its essential geometric properties to be retained whenever the precise shape was required to change.This proved to be invaluable for maintaining its coherence during the design development phase since not only did the master plan change, but also the program, owing to numerous negotiations between stakeholders vying to control space within the pre-determined, overall scope.

Location: Datong, China

Client: Datong City Government

Size: 20,000 sq. m.

Schedule: Design, 2009-2010; Construction, 2011-2013

Team: Design Architect: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., Cambridge, MA;Preston Scott Cohen (Architectural Design); Amit Nemlich (Project Architect) Matthew Allen, Carl D’Apolito-Dworkin, Collin Gardner, Michelle Chang, Juan Jofre, Mary Stuckert, Janna Kauss (Project Assistants) 

Design Development and Construction Design: 北京市建筑设计研究院有限公司
Beijing Institute of Architectural Design Co., Ltd


2A2 Design Department + Complex Structure Research Institute + Mechanical and Electrical Design Department


Architect In Charge: Mi JunRen, Li DaPeng, Nie XiangDong, Shen JinJing


Architecture: Li DaPeng, Shen JinJing


Architectural Designer: Ren ZhenHua, Wang JianLing


Structure: Lu QingGang


Structural Designer: Yang Ning


Equipment: Zhang Jie, Ma Jian


Equipment Designer: Li ZhiYuan, Pan Shuo


Electrical: Jia YanTong, Song LiLi


Electrical Designer: Guo Yi, Duan Qian