Libraries are much more than books. They are social spaces and cornerstones of communities. Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist/philanthropist who helped establish over 3000 libraries across the United States, believed libraries to be the ‘palace of the people’. A space that would enable individuals to reach their full potential through the resources they offered. While Carnegie referred to the intellectual material that books provided, today's libraries have had to adapt to a society beyond books.

The Beyond Books Studio revisits the contents of the library as a changing institution and its necessity for alternative borrowed objects in the community. The image of the stacks, endless rows of printed knowledge, is but a poster child for what these spaces hold. Community based media and fab labs have begun to fill a needed void. Open to the public, they provide equitable access to the tools, knowledge, and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using a wide range of resources. Libraries too have begun to incorporate these non traditional assets into their collections, a necessary step to maintain their relevance in the community.

This section invites students to propose an extension to Ann Arbor’s Downtown Library location that responds to a constantly changing world beyond books. The studio’s proposals speculate on the future of spatial needs for a multifacited society working and educating in a myriad of ways.




As Midwestern industries continue to digitize, there is the potential to foster a passion for STEM at the Ann Arbor Library. This project explores at the intersection of agencies, programs that include a collaborative “robotics” makerspace, exhibition area, and places of social exchange. Inspired by robotic forming, the exterior extend the processes housed inside. Places of making are coupled with combinations of nodal social spaces to promote an atmosphere of collaborative idea exchange. The library of Orbital Landscapes is a center developed and curated to introduce Ann Arbor residents to future skills and technologies.

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