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Yale University – Sterling Memorial Library

On a sunny day, I made my way to New Haven to soak up some architectural inspiration. Even before I set one foot into the Nave of this renowned facility, a Yalie provided me with some interesting facts and figures. Of the 40 libraries that grace the Yale University Campus, the Sterling Memorial Library is one of the most elaborate buildings on campus. Designed by James Gamble Rogers in the architectural style of Gothic Revival and completed in 1931.

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The exterior stonework has the look of building twice its age, mainly due to Roger’s trick of splashing acid on the stone to simulate age. The structure features extravagant leaded stained glass, intricate gargoyles, ornamental ceilings, and a giant fresco. These lavish adornments are only triumphed by the library’s 3000 plus hand-crafted leaded glass windows. The windows, like the 4 million volumes housed in the building, present everything from history, to nature, and fiction.

Once inside the Nave, I better understood Gothic Revival architecture, the space was created in the image of a Gothic Cathedral. Only the pews are missing. To the right, are antique card catalog cases. To the left, desks and monitors with internet access. Straight up, ornamental vaulted ceiling provide the impression of height and grandeur.  Straight ahead, the Alma Mater fresco called me to approach the alter-like circulation desk and examine paintings’ academic subject matter.

Every space in the building, including the Franke Periodicals Room, Starr Reading Room, Irving Gilmore Music Library, is a wealth of inspiration.