One of the newest additions to Riga’s architecture and also the biggest public building constructed in recent years – National Library of Latvia has been open to visitors since summer and still offers free excursions and exhibitions.
What can you say about the new library that hasn’t been said already? A bit controversial because of it’s high cost and modern design, celebrated by some, still panned by others, it has become a permanent part of Pārdaugava, the ever changing Riga’s left bank.
Need for a proper national library was expressed already in 1928, 3 years after Gunnar Birkerts, the most famous Latvian architect and the author of the building, was born. Who knew that the man who’ll build the Castle of Light was just a little boy back then. Postponed for decades, project was brought up again in 1988 and one year later it was the exile Latvian Birkerts who won the contest, a thing that wouldn’t be possible 10 years earlier.
Spite library’s design already being proposed it took some 20 years to actually get around building it. To make things even harder, it was 2008 and right in the middle of the latest crisis, when construction begun. Because of all the attention at the time and real estate market completely crashing, it seemed like National Library was the only place in Riga where builders still had work.
After more than 80 years in the making, 2014 couldn’t have been more appropriate for Library to finally open it’s doors. Good news is that we get to keep it after this year as the European Capital of Culture. So if you haven’t been – go and read, look, learn and even maybe do a kick flip on your skateboard.