Underground Mies Library by Truite

This project was submited to the Mies Memorial Library competition with Registration ID #22724
Rémi Bonin
Cégep de Saint-Laurent
Tamara Kliuk
Cégep de Saint-Laurent

“LESS IS MORE” is probably one of the most known quotes from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe underlying the importance of simplicity in designs. The library is situated underground to respect this will of simplicity. In this project we wanted to show Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall by keeping the park situated behind it, instead of hiding it. The park will serve as a meeting place, an exhibition area, and of course will also serve the purpose of observing the Crown Hall legacy.


The concrete skylights visible from the park indicate the existence of the library, but also serve has a meeting and social space. Engraved on those platforms are some of Mies’s quotes and texts to appreciate his architecture and learn from it.


Site plan

Three hallways extend from the entry:

Library hallway gives access to the library and the administration.

Collection hallway gives access to the collection and the administration.

Auditorium hallway gives access to the auditorium.


The library

The three entry points opens onto 8mx5m rooms equiped with computers, automatised return and renting desks, and staffs to provide assistance to visitors. The toilet rooms include women, men, and unisex stalls.

56 reading rooms of 4mx5m, divided by floor to ceiling wooden shelving, offer multiple study environments. The small rooms give the impression of an intimate library with a warm ambience thanks to the soft light provided by the skylights.


Diverse reading environments

Randomly placed reading environments create the impression of discovery while walking through the library. The changing angle of the exterior light add to the uniqueness of each room.



The auditorium is a simple conctrete cylinder with movable wood benches. Large curtains can be arrenged in different manners to adjust the accoustic proprety of the room for different types of preentation. Skylights are placed on the ceiling with flaps to close or open them depending on the necessity. The auditorium is highly adaptable to different circumstences.



It is a simple open space setup with a meeting room in its center. A small dining and kitchen space can be found at the back.


Collection and study rooms

This section is not accessible to the general public. All the fifteen 2.5mx2m study rooms are situated at the entry of the collection area. The archives are stored in metal shelvings and carts are available to move larger items safely.

Small holes in the library corridor wall give a chance for visitors to peek inside.


Connection with nature

Skylights in all reading rooms and on the entire lenght of corridors add natural light to the underground.

A hole at the end of the library corridor lets rain fall and wind blow, creating a fully immersive sensorial experience.

Visitors at the park can sit on the skylight rim. Inviting them to take a pause and reflect on architecture.

From sunrise to sunset, the wash of light varies in the hallways.



The smooth contrete of the wall contrasts with the texture of the paving stones used for the flooring. It shows the evolution of the architectural materials throughout time.



The exit is a passage from shade to light comparable to the knowledge aquired from the archive’s collection.

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