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Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination

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February 19 – April 6, 2008

Idea Exchange
Design at Riverside
7 Melville Street S, Cambridge, ON
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Logotopia: from the Ancient Greek logos, meaning “work” and topos, meaning “place” is a multi-disciplinary exhibition and publication comprised of architecture, art and the written word in almost equal proportions. Logotopia explores the library, or “word place”, as both a concept and a built form through four distinct categories – the Universal Library, the National Library, the Public Library and the Private Library.

Logotopia also provides a glimpse into the future of the library in the information age, as well as the changing image of the librarian in pop culture and as cyber avatar.

Libraries are among the most desirable commissions for contemporary architects and a frequent source of inspiration for artists and writers. This is because libraries are public spaces that allow for private contemplation, where people can spend their time largely as they please. Crossing the threshold from the busy street into the hushed atmosphere of the library is a transformative experience in which you leave behind one world and approach the open stacks with the anticipation of delightful discoveries and potential of travel to new worlds.

Featured Architects Hariri Pontarini Architects, Kongats Architects, Patkau Architects, Shigeru Ban Architects, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, and Snøhetta Architects share their inspirations and their deep appreciation for libraries of all types, in both Canadian and international contexts.

Featured Artists Adam David Brown, Douglas Coupland, Denis Farley, Guy Laramée and Michael Lewis contribute another dimension to the Logotopia experience. Their works encompass a wide range of media and were chosen for their visual commentary on the notion of the library and their reinforcement of the link between art, architecture and literature.

Featured Writers Lise Bissonnette, Ray Bradbury, Alberto Manguel, Robert Jan van Pelt and Nora Young inform and expand the multi disciplinary tribute to the library by recounting their personal and professional library experiences in essays created expressly for Logotopia.

Also featured are excerpts from the blog of Dr. Saad Eskander, the Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive in Baghdad, details of the Fortsas Library Hoax, an introduction to Rex Libris-superhero librarian and unique historical images and artifacts depicting the library.

Shigeru Ban
Shigeru Ban is an architect born in Tokyo in 1957.  He is particularly known for his innovative use of organic materials such as paper, bamboo and engineered wood.  Library of a Poet in...

Shigeru Ban is an architect born in Tokyo in 1957.  He is particularly known for his innovative use of organic materials such as paper, bamboo and engineered wood.  Library of a Poet in Kanagawa, Japan was Ban’s first permanent building made of paper tubes.  He is currently working on the Centre Pompidou Metz in France.

Lise Bissonnette
Lise Bissonnette is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.  Prior to her appointment, Mme. Bissonnette served for eight years as publisher and...

Lise Bissonnette is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.  Prior to her appointment, Mme. Bissonnette served for eight years as publisher and editor of the daily Le Devoir.  She is the author of eight books – three collections of essays and five works of fiction.

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is the acclaimed author of more than thirty books.  Among the best known are The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes.  He lives in Los...

Ray Bradbury is the acclaimed author of more than thirty books.  Among the best known are The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes.  He lives in Los Angeles and his latest work is Now and Forever (HarperCollins,2008).

Adam David Brown
Adam David Brown is a multidisciplinary artist living in Toronto, Canada. His work is frequently generated by his interest in science, language and impermanence. A graduate of the Ontario...

Adam David Brown is a multidisciplinary artist living in Toronto, Canada. His work is frequently generated by his interest in science, language and impermanence. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, he completed his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. 

Brown has exhibited his work in Canada, Europe, Central America and the United States. His recent solo exhibitions include For The Time Being (MKG127, Toronto) andInfinity Plus One (MKG127, Toronto). He has participated in numerous exhibitions including Reading Room (Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, 2014) , We're In The Library (The Koffler, Toronto) and More Than Two (The Powerplant, Toronto, 2013). Adam was awarded the 2009 Artist Prize granted by the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts. He has received Artist Grants from the Ontario Arts Council and Project Grants from the Canada Council For the Arts. Adam David Brown is Represented by MKG127.

Dr. Saad Eskander
Dr. Saad Eskander has been Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive (INLA) in Baghdad since 2003.  From November 2006 until July 2007 he wrote a blog about his experience at the INLA,...

Dr. Saad Eskander has been Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive (INLA) in Baghdad since 2003.  From November 2006 until July 2007 he wrote a blog about his experience at the INLA, which was posted on the website of the British Library, and is now available here.

Denis Farley
Denis Farley lives and works in Montréal.  He has exhibited in many galleries in Québec, Canada, Europe and the United States.  He is represented in public and private collections,...

Denis Farley lives and works in Montréal.  He has exhibited in many galleries in Québec, Canada, Europe and the United States.  He is represented in public and private collections, including Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, Fonds National d’art Contemporain à Paris and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography.  Farley is represented by Galerie Graff in Montréal.

Hariri Pontarini Architects
Hariri Pontarini Architects is a Toronto-based architectural practice which draws on the collective skills and expertise of over 40 registered and intern architects, and support staff. ...

Hariri Pontarini Architects is a Toronto-based architectural practice which draws on the collective skills and expertise of over 40 registered and intern architects, and support staff.  Principals Siamak Hariri and David Pontarini have been partners in practice since 1994, and maintain shared values about responsive, high quality design and architecture that has a strong sense of place and a demonstrated significance in materiality.

Kongats Architects Inc
Kongats Architects Inc. was founded in Toronto in 1990. Since then, its work has consisted primarily of cultural and educational projects. Alar Kongats has received several awards, including a...

Kongats Architects Inc. was founded in Toronto in 1990. Since then, its work has consisted primarily of cultural and educational projects. Alar Kongats has received several awards, including a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for the Centennial College Student Centre. Major current projects include a new Student Centre for Nipissing University and Canadore College in North Bay, and new Medical School for the University of Toronto in Mississauga.

Guy Laramée
Guy Laramée is a Montréal-based interdisciplinary artist who has worked in visual arts, theatre, music and literature. He has received numerous grants and awards, and has collaborated with Robert...

Guy Laramée is a Montréal-based interdisciplinary artist who has worked in visual arts, theatre, music and literature. He has received numerous grants and awards, and has collaborated with Robert Lepage (Québec), Volker Hesse (Zurich), Rachel Rosenthal (Los Angeles) and Larry Tremblay (Montréal). His work has been seen and heard across North America, Latin America, Europe and Japan.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis has exhibited extensively throughout Canada. LandymoreKeith Contemporary Art represents his work. His paintings are held in the public collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario and in...

Michael Lewis has exhibited extensively throughout Canada. LandymoreKeith Contemporary Art represents his work. His paintings are held in the public collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario and in international private collections. He studied at the Ontario College of Art and lives and work in Toronto.

Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel is a Canadian writer, editor and public intellectual who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1948. He has received numerous international awards and honours and is the author of...

Alberto Manguel is a Canadian writer, editor and public intellectual who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1948. He has received numerous international awards and honours and is the author of many works of fiction and no-fiction, including The Library at Night, With Borges and A History of Reading.

Patkau Architects
Patkau Architects is an internationally recognized, award winning architectural design studio based in Vancouver.  There are currently three principals: John Patkau, Patricia Patkau and Michael...

Patkau Architects is an internationally recognized, award winning architectural design studio based in Vancouver.  There are currently three principals: John Patkau, Patricia Patkau and Michael Cunningham.  In over 25 years of practice, Patkau Architects has been responsible for the design of a wide variety of projects from gallery installations to master planning, from modest houses to major urban libraries. “As the circumstances of the work change, our interests expand. We seek to explore the full richness and diversity of architectural practice, understanding it as a critical cultural act that engages our most fundamental desires and aspirations. We refuse singular definitions of architecture: as art, as technology, as social service, as environmental agent, as political statement. We embrace all these definitions, together, as part of the rich, complex and vital discipline that we believe architecture to be”.

Kitty Pope
Kitty Pope was born and raised in Canada, and is now Executive Director of the Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois. She has been at the forefront of developing the Alliance Second Life...

Kitty Pope was born and raised in Canada, and is now Executive Director of the Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois. She has been at the forefront of developing the Alliance Second Life Library, which won The ALA/Information Today Inc. Library of the Future Award in June 2007. Pope is also a frequent lecturer on the virtual world of Second Life.

Shim-Sutcliffe Architects
Shim-Sutcliffe Architects’ interest in the construction and fabrication of buildings, sites, and their intersections has forced them to question fundamental relationships between object and...

Shim-Sutcliffe Architects’ interest in the construction and fabrication of buildings, sites, and their intersections has forced them to question fundamental relationships between object and ground, building and landscape, man and nature.  Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe are partners in life as well as architectural collaborators. The Shim-Sutcliffe studio located in the downtown core of Toronto, frequently references the city’s vibrancy, diversity, ethnicity and particular landscape to reflect both global and North American sensibilities. The studio works in an intense and probing way, sharing ideas through drawings, models, and discussion with the numerous remarkable clients who have put their faith in them over the last fifteen years.  Shim-Sutcliffe’s built architectural work has been honoured with eight Governor General’s Medals and Awards for Architecture along with American Institute of Architects, American Wood Council, Canadian Wood Council, Architectural Record Interiors and the I.D. Magazine Design Review awards.

SNØHETTA
Snøhetta AS was established in 1989, when five young architects (three Norwegians, one Austrian and one American) won a prestigious competition to design the new library in Alexandria, Egypt. Twenty...

Snøhetta AS was established in 1989, when five young architects (three Norwegians, one Austrian and one American) won a prestigious competition to design the new library in Alexandria, Egypt. Twenty years later the firm now has a staff of 120 many of whom are international citizens. The firm has offices in Oslo and New York, and various project sites on several continents. SNØHETTA is currently run by two of its founders, Craig Dykers (New York office) and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen (Oslo office), together with four other partners: Ole Gustavsen, Robert Greenwood, Tarald Lundevall and Jenny B. Osuldsen.

The scope of SNØHETTA’s activities is broad. Finished projects range from restaurant interiors, courtyard landscapes, public art commissions, to museums and the Opera House in Oslo which was awarded the 2009 Mies van der Rohe Award-the European Union Prize for contemporary architecture. 

One of the main characteristics of Snøhetta’s work is the importance attached to context and landscape, and to achieving harmony between buildings and their surroundings. Close collaboration with artists has been of crucial importance in most of the firm’s projects.  SNØHETTA strives to produce designs that are eco-friendly, sustainable and of high quality.

Robert Jan van Pelt
Robert Jan van Pelt teaches in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. He has published widely on the history of architecture, Holocaust history and Auschwitz and has engaged in the...

Robert Jan van Pelt teaches in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. He has published widely on the history of architecture, Holocaust history and Auschwitz and has engaged in the battle against Holocaust denial. His personal library serves as a refuge from all of that.

Nora Young
Nora Young is a Toronto-based writer and broadcaster. She pursues her fascination with technology and culture on public radio, on television, in print and online. She was the founding host of CBC...

Nora Young is a Toronto-based writer and broadcaster. She pursues her fascination with technology and culture on public radio, on television, in print and online. She was the founding host of CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera and the technology show, Spark, and is the technology columnist for CBC radio afternoon shows.



  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
  • Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow
    Logotopia : The Library in Architecture, Art and the Imagination (installation), 2008. Photo cred: David Popplow

Curatorial Writing

Word Place by Sascha Hastings, Curator. The title of this exhibition, Logotopia, comes from the Ancient Greek logos, meaning “work”, and topos, meaning “place”. The library is a “word place”, the...

Word Place
by Sascha Hastings, Curator.

The title of this exhibition, Logotopia, comes from the Ancient Greek logos, meaning “work”, and topos, meaning “place”. The library is a “word place”, the ultimate confluence of language and architecture.

My own experience with word places began in my parents’ living room. Built into the wall beneath a bookcase was a small cupboard, its handles low enough that a determined toddler could tug the doors open. Inside lay a treasure trove of children’s books – a feast of memorable stories, characters and illustrations to become immersed in for hours on end.

This was followed by the ritual of weekly excursions to the local public library, where crossing the threshold from the busy street into the hushed atmosphere of the main reception area, the intoxicating mixture of scents of books, human bodies and industrial cleaning fluids never failed to stir in me the same frisson of anticipation I get in airports today – the promise of travel to new worlds.

Still later, I discovered my father’s book-lined study, with its idiosyncratic collection, and then, the seemingly infinite world within “Fort Book” (nickname for the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library, often regarded as a hulking example of Brutalist architecture), where I began roaming the shelves and making random and delightful discoveries. I know that I was not alone in this enterprise. There was a sense of unspoken complicity among the stack seekers, like we were members of a secret society.

Libraries are places where we can be simultaneously alone and part of a community. They are public spaces that allow for private contemplation, where people can spend their time largely as they please and where access to large collections of printed materials, films, music and the Internet is free. Libraries encourage visitors to seek out new information and frequently provide forums for the discussion of books, authors and ideas, or venues for the presentation of music, art, lectures and films.

The Logotopia project began with the intriguing notion that given the right combination of factors – engaging architecture, central location, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and strong public programming – a library has the power and the tools to actively and positively affect both individuals and the community as a whole; that a library can reinforce civic pride and breathe life into aging or neglected districts’ that the library is as relevant a place today to nurture new ideas and encourage access to a vast knowledge network as it always has been.

As I delved into the idea of the library as an entity, certain recurring themes began to emerge and eventually became the basis for the division of Logotopia into spheres of reference – the Universal Library, the National Library, the Public Library, the Private Library and a preliminary investigation of the future of the library, the librarian and the role of new technology.

My research through the real and virtual stacks, and the many ensuing discussions began to reveal the historic impact of the library on a variety of artistic disciplines including architecture, art, film and literature as well as the large body of work that was dedicated to, or that made reference to the influence of the library.

Of particular inspiration to me was the book Living Library by Dutch architect Wiel Arets, which documents the creation of the Utrecht University Library from conception to realization. The book is punctuated with interviews, essays (both written and photographic) and references to artforms other than architecture. Living Library served as a muse for the development of a multi-disciplinary approach to Logotopia, resulting in a publication and exhibition comprised of art, architecture and the written word in almost equal proportions.

The list of contributors is extensive and includes celebrated names as well as emerging voices.

Logotopia invites the reader and the exhibition visitor to immerse themselves in the world of the library, both physical and metaphysical, and to embrace the library in architecture, art and the imagination.




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Funders

City of Cambridge Canada Council for the Arts Ontario Arts CouncilWaterloo Architecture