The Buddha advised that he who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.
I would quibble with that bromide by adding that the Buddha never had pals who had the good luck to work in the heavenly Bay View or Washington Park Libraries.
Former City Librarian Kate Huston (uncompromising in her aesthetic and a champion of forward-thinking architecture) had the good sense to hire Milwaukee’s own genius-architect Joy Peot-Shields to design both buildings. You hardly have to be a blind acolyte of contemporary design to appreciate what Ms. Peot-Shields accomplished with an ugly, neglected little corner on Kinnickinnic Avenue in 1993:
Bay View Library was designed to resemble a lantern of learning atop a hill.
When you enter this little gem with it’s southern and western walls of glass, you can feel your body inhale the natural elements, like sitting in a forest clearing on a warm summer evening.
Washington Park Library overlooks Washington Park at the busy intersection of N. Sherman Blvd., W. Lloyd St. and W. Lisbon Ave. and smiles at the old-world Revolutionary War hero Frederick William von Steuben on the boulevard. The building’s high-tech energy conservation system (including radiant in-floor heating and geothermal heat pumps) is uber-cool. The glassy, double-canopied entrance wraps around the northern corner and the inside atrium sports an enormous steel and glass sculpture by artist Steve Feren. The work is entitled “Megaphor” which is a nod to the megaphone and information transmission. I think it looks like a rocket ship. See what you think:
It’s Women’s History Month, and Milwaukee owes Ms. Huston and Ms. Peot-Shields an enormous debt of gratitude. If you’re a New Urbanist looking for yeasty, cutting edge-intellectual culture and lovely green architecture rising from the ashes of the old city, drop by both of these treasures. Go inside and meet dear Christopher, Enid, Mike and Tony, Lisa, Opal and Kenya, Ashley, and the lovely Irene. Tell those lucky-ducks I say hello.