Two Ballerina’s Library by Pedra no Ceu Architects

This project was submited to the Finalists competition with Registration ID #23134
Pedra no Ceu Architects
Thomas Dylan Butler
Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo
Bruno Wolff Monaco
Escola da Cidade




Two Ballerina’s Library


There are two ballerinas dancing with Mies.

Alongside prisms another one rests, affirming to respect a logic so crystalline that the only possibility is to reinstate it. A great hollowed structural skin is risen, never blocking the view.   It is structured by trellises that span three floors and crowned by four inverted beams, two of which become the four support points that hold up the project.

Within it, a serene space dances with the essentials: structure and function; drawing and construction; steel and wood; light and wind; water and stone. Amidst it, two corten steel ballerina-pillars spiral downwards. First, they define, hang, and prevent spin of two internal volumes. Afterwards, they gently meet the stone-like piazza, from where water surfaces like a jewel.

This last space is the access point to the library that unfolds above, and an extension to the previously existing paths. Impossible to be closed by doors, it is, above all, a public space. Together with its structural skin it becomes shadow, filtered illumination and cross-ventilation against the summer’s heat, and a great shelter against the Windy City’s rigorous winter.

This protector’s vocation extends towards its collections. The items hosted in the building are protected by environmentally controlled, glass sealed quasi-cubes.

One of these is the public library: noisier, more quotidian, and with an auditorium where one can see the campus from above, alluding to the Greeks that spoke from their amphitheaters whilst seeing the city. In the other resides Mies’ legacy. In it, a triple oculus allows light to suggest that therein lies something more than material. A secular temple of knowledge.

Unraveling itself through ramps, the space is an act of kindness towards those who can’t conquer stairs with ease. But it is also an act of care towards the transport of collection. From the technical parking spots through to the last floors, items can be carried by carts. That is, without the fear of sudden steps or of the constricting space of elevators. The circulations configure a long ribbon that swirls along the central pillars.

Between two crystals in the sky two ballerinas dance, as if in eternal courtship with a master.



Subtitles and indications:

Siegel Hall

Galvin Library

Crown Hall

proposed library







Mies Collection

Open  Collection




Ballerina pillars

Open piazza/courtyard


3rd Floor Plan (+5.70 m)

1- Mies Collection book/item storage 2-research stations  3-administration 4-copy room 5-bathroom 6-Auditorium

7- open collection book/item storage 8-reading/study stations


2nd Floor Plan (+3.20 m)

1- Mies Collection book 2-item storage stations 3-administration 4-copy room 5-bathroom 7- open collection book/item storage

8- reading/study stations


1st Floor Plan (+0.70 m)

9- common area/circulation ring

Courtyard/Piazza Floor Plan (-3.50 m)


AA section

BB section

Transversal relation with surroundings

CC section

DD section


Longitudinal relation with surroundings





architecture overview

site area

construction size

building-land ratio

structure steel + concrete

Mies library

building breakdown

Open library

Ground Floor

Circulartion Areas


infrastructure breakdown

25k items in the Complete Mies Collection

15 research stations

copy room




open library

60k books open collection

200 reading/study stations

copy room

61 seat auditorium


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