RISD’s Old Library opened in 1878 with a single collection of books contained within single bookcase located in a corner of a newly constructed Waterman Street building.
By 1909 the library expanded its collection filling two rooms at the College building. Eliza Buffington became the first appointed library director. The legacy of the Eliza Buffington years include collections of permanent value, cataloging and accession records for materials in many formats,and the notion of the library as a special place.In 1916, the Director of the School, L. Earl Rowe, describedthe School of Design Library for the Providence Magazine, calling it a very important part of the school’s equipment. He remarked that its collection of three thousand volumes was neither large nor exhaustive, having been acquired slowly and carefully to meet the demands of the different departments, with the result that most of the books will be of permanent value in an art library. He went on to note that in addition to books, the Library held periodicals, 15,000 mounted reproductions and photographs, 1,500 lantern slides and about 1,200 postcards.
In the summer of 2006 the Library moved into a new facility in the first two floors of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust bank at 15 Westminster Street directly across the river from the RISD Auditorium. Today, the Old library space exists without a prescribed use.My intention is to revitalize this space by converting the library into a transitory exhibit space. The gallery will function as a place where all the design faculties converge. This can be made clear by designing a coherent identity for the library.This new identity originates from the main organizing element — the bookshelf. I used the grid of the bookshelf and the stacking of books as the generating form for the proposed work.