Scholar's library

A study retreat in the Catskill Mountains, upstate New York

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This pavilion provides study space and storage for approximately 10,000 books on Japanese history. Designed while Frederik was working in New York at Peter Gluck & Partners, Architects, the brief was to create a remote work place for a scholar which came the closest to being outdoors as possible.

The principle is very simple: On the ground floor, compact archive shelving and a small cloak room. A narrow stair leads up to the top floor where sliding windows provide 360˚ views into the forest. The upper space includes a desk, further book shelves and a small sofabed for possible overnight stays.

The footprint of the pavilion is just 6x6m, making it the smallest building to have ever won the prestigious American Institute of Architects Honor Award.

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The columns have been off-set from the corners where they might be expected in order to lose their appearance within the surrounding trees.

Frameless fixed structural glazing was used in two opposing corners in order to create pockets for sliding doors and insect screens to slide into. The sliding windows are off-the-shelf slim-frame double-glazed patio doors with a corner coupling, allowing them to be opened without leaving a frame at the corner.

The roof is a seamless single sheet of  EPDM, bonded to a crisp copper edging.

Photgraphy: Paul Warchol (feature photos)

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Construction and Mock-ups

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Setting out the footprint

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1:1 mock-up materials


The library building is unusual as it is one of the very few buildings that has been mocked up at full scale on site. The reason for this was twofold: Firstly the siting was important as the main views from this specific location wanted to be carefully chosen, as well as the visual impact of the pavilion in the forest. Secondly, the aim was to avoid cutting down any of the mature trees surrounding the site. We therefore built the exact volume using 4x2" timbers and tarps, moving it around until the client said "stop, here!"

 As the practice also acted as construction management company, all trades were co-ordinated in-house. 

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Completed 1:1 mock-up

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Superstructure complete

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Temporary cladding to protect the structure

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Lightweight fibre cement cladding