Thompson Library

By Garrett Brinkman

The William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library is located on the western edge of the iconic oval at the Ohio State University.  It is named after the fifth president of the university.  Ground was broken on the original three story portion of the building on the east end of the building in 1912 and then construction was completed in 1914.  The architects who designed this original portion won a design competition.  They were Allen and Collins of Boston, Massachusetts.  This original structure was added on to in 1952.  This included the massive eleven story tower in the center of the building, extending the original three story portion, and single story extensions of the north and south ends of the entrance.  In 1977 the building saw a modern wing added to its west side.  Finally from 2007 through 2009 the library saw its third and final renovation and addition.  This project including removing hazardous materials, making sure the building was up to ADA codes, replacing portions of the 1977 addition as well as adding to other parts of it, and restoring the original east facade of the building.  Today the library serves more than sixty thousand undergraduate and graduate students so it has a fairly hefty population to service.  The renovations and additions prior to the 2007 project caused the library to serve as three primary buildings.  Today however the building feels very much like one continuous building.  There are distinguishable sections of the building however.  The “sections” give the interior some interesting moments.  When walking into the library through the original east entrance the ceiling is very close to your head.  As you continue into the building past the bust of President Thompson you reach the atrium which is almost a sublime moment.  The atrium is ten floors high and is flanked by glass so you can see all the levels of books in each floor above you.  Seeing all of these books extend way beyond your reach really makes you feel like you are in a place of higher learning and education.  It makes a statement like about the educationally performance of the university.  As you further your way through the building from the eastern most portion to the western most you once again feel the ceiling converge on you but then you descend a staircase into an area where the ceiling once more rises.  The ceiling doesn’t rise as monumentally as it does in the atrium but it gives you enough space to have an open feeling.  The western entrance is much different from the eastern.  The eastern entrance is adorned by stone and is much darker and enclosed.  The western entrance is much more modern.  The western entrance is made largely or glass and steel which allows a lot of visibility and light to enter the library.  The two facades differ greatly as well.  They are different in many of the same ways as the entrances are.   The east facade is older looking with its large pieces of stone and stone columns.  The western facade is much modern looking with a large run of glass windows and steel holding them in place.