In one of my parallel lives (I have many) I trained as an architect so last weekend was a gift when I finally got access to what I consider to be one of Scotland’s finest modern buildings, The Sir Duncan Rice Library at Aberdeen University.
This library is equally beautiful inside and out but the grey-green glass exterior gives no clue to what lies within. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote “Remember the impression one gets from good architecture, that it expresses a thought. It makes one want to respond with a gesture.” On entering this building, the gesture is universal. You immediately look and keep your head back as you crane for different viewing angles, only giving up when your neck says ‘enough’.
Once on higher levels, the sense of space and silence surrounding the library’s occupants at their workstations was a meditation and the logic of the glass exterior was revealed in the views of the city and sea beyond. Frank Lloyd Wright’s biographer, Brendan Gill said “What an architect is said to be about: provide your fellow human beings with the best possible shelter at the lowest possible cost”. Finances aside – I envied the inhabitants of this glorious place – their best possible shelter.