Functional But Flawed

Cesar Pelli’s newly opened Minneapolis Central Library cuts an imposing figure on the northern edge of the city’s downtown. Pelli designed the building to be adaptable well into the future, and to function as a public gathering space in the city center. “But the library falters as a public presence, owing to the aesthetic gulf between its expressionistic roof and its plain-Jane wings. Pelli’s attempts to elevate the mundane wings above the level of a suburban office building cannot overcome their banal geometry. [Still, the building is] light-filled and democratic in spirit, endeavoring to make people feel comfortable rather than intimidated.”