Phillips Memorial Library
Nicole Kramer

Constructed June, 1967-January 1969 for Providence College. It was opened for use on January 6, 1969.


Phillips Memorial Library
Phillips Memorial Library

Form:
Phillips Memorial Library is angular in appearance. It is made of brick and concrete and is without historical ornament. The windows which add natural light to the interior of the upper floor add to the overall appearance of the building. The windows give the library a drastic change in appearance from day to night. It is always possible to tell if the library is open at night from a distance because the interior lighting spills out through the windows. Phillips Memorial Library has one main entrance which is not centered on the exterior, but placed to one side. The entrance provides for the flow of traffic because it opens into a space close to the circulation desk and the stair cases leading to the basement and the second floor. The interior of Phillips Memorial is open with space for communal work spaces, but also provides individual offices, book shelves and work spaces around the perimeter. The library centers on a sunken seating area on the first floor which can be seen from the second floor. Wooden furniture and shelving adds warmth to the library. While the library has many angular, protruding features, it has an overall balanced appearance.


First Floor Study Area
First Floor Study Area


View of the first floor seating area from the second floor
View of the first floor seating area from the second floor


Structure:
Phillips Memorial Library is held up on pilotis the stilt like supports that Le Corbusier used in his Villa Savoye 1929-1930 (Le Corbusier). The pilotis make the building appear separated from the earth. This suggests a modernized classicism. The pilotis also allow the land to be used more efficiently because the second floor is larger than the ground floor.

Architect:
Phillips Memorial Library was designed by Kenneth DeMay of Sasaki, Dawson, DeMay Associates. Pietro Belluschi was an architectural consultant on the project. Dimeo Construction Co. of Providence constructed the library. The interior of the library was designed by Bill Bagnall Associates, Inc. In January of 1970, Phillips Memorial was one of sixteen buildings chosen from 300 nominations for the Campus Design Award which was sponsored by College and University Business. In 1972 Phillips Memorial was also awarded the National Honor Award out of 204 libraries. The award was given by the Library Buildings Award Program sponsored by the American Institute of Architects
, American Library Association and National Book Committee. Keefe and Associates made renovations to the interior of the library. Keefe and Associates also designed the interiors of St. Dominic Chapel and Smith Center for the Arts (Providence College Archives).

Patronage:
The library was built for Providence College and is located on the Providence College campus in Providence, RI. Phillips Memorial Library was named by benefactor Mrs. Edwin (Phillips) Pritchard in honor of her family (Providence.edu).

Function:
Phillips Memorial was built in 1967-1969 to serve the Providence College community as a library. It houses the Office of Academic Services, the College Archives, the departments of History, English and Women's Studies as well as faculty offices. Its function has not changed in the forty years since its construction. However, there have been some alterations. There was originally a smoking lounge on the top floor of the building, but in 1975 there was a fire in the lounge causing smoke damage and soot damage to paintings. The smoking lounge was closed in 1975 and converted into group study lounges. In 1978 the McGregor Computing Laboratory was opened. The computer lab was moved to
Bishop Harkins Hall in 1984 and the space was converted into classrooms and department offices. In December of 1985, handicapped accessible doors were added to the entrance to accomodate more students (Providence College Archives). Keefe and Associates have made renovations to the interior in the past few years because the college has grown and changed and the library now has different requirements. Recent changes have included: moving the Office of Academic Services from the basement to the top floor of the library. Compact shelves have also been added to the library to increase shelf capacity and work space. Beginning in 2008 these renovations are ongoing in 2009.

second floor work area with compact shelving
second floor work area with compact shelving


Setting:
The library was constructed after most of Providence College campus was developed. It is placed on the edge of the campus in close proximity to Bishop Harkins Hall. The library sits on what used to be Pius Avenue, a road that connected Bishop Harkins Hall with the junction of Wyndham Avenue and Eaton Street. Pius Avenue was demolished in June, 1967 when construction on the library began. It does not blend in with the natural environment, but does reflect other buildings on the campus with its brick and concrete construction. A new brick and granite walkway was added in front of the library in 2008 which helps to tie Phillips Memorial with other buildings on the campus (Providence Library Commons).


The walkway nearing completion - July 23 2008
The walkway nearing completion - July 23 2008




Context:
Phillips Memorial Library fits in with other campus buildings because of the materials that were used in its construction, brick and cement.
At the same time that Phillips Memorial Library was constructed, DeMay and his design consultant Pietro Belluschi were constructing Campbell Hall at the University of Virginia which houses the School of Architecture. Campbell Hall was completed in 1970. This building is quite similar to Phillips Memorial Library. Similar materials of brick and concrete are used which reflect the academic surroundings of college campuses. Both buildings also share exposed concrete coffered structures in the ceiling used to house lighting fixtures. Campbell Hall, like Phillips Memorial Library, provides students with individual and communal workspaces. The upper floors of Campbell Hall are studio spaces designed with large windows to allow natural light into the work spaces (UVA.com).

Campbell Hall, University of Virginia
Campbell Hall, University of Virginia


















To see a quick video tour of Phillips Memorial Library, click on the following link, select "explore our campus," and then "information commons."
http://www.providence.edu/tour2007/tour.html

Bibliography:

http://flickr.com/photos/pclibrarycommons/
http://www.providence.edu/About+PC/New+Initiatives/Completed+Projects/Phillips+Memorial+Library.htm
http://www.arch.virginia.edu/archive/ded7y/vs98/SOAsubj.htm
Jackson, Jane M. Phillips Memorial Library. Providence College Archives: 3/1/84 BL, revised 5/30/86.
www.providence.edu/Academic/Phillips+Memorial+Library
www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/Corbu.html