León, Guanajuato, MEXICO

The 6,750-square-meter Guanajuato State Library is the first building of the Centro Cultural Guanajuato masterplanned by Pei Partnership Architects in 2003. The library consists primarily of two volumes interconnected by means of a 2-level glass gallery. The main volume is composed of three levels and the second volume of two levels. A large terrace occupies the third level of the lower volume. This terrace and the elevated plaza of the library are covered by a large, 3-story steel pergola painted white.

On the lower level of the library, the gallery serves as an access and distribution vestibule which leads directly to a central atrium covered by a skylight, which connects the three levels of the principal volume. The vertical circulation of the building is assured primarily by means of a monumental staircase located on the north façade of the access gallery whose own glass space offers generous views of the gardens to those inside and the activity and animation within the library.

Three materials dominate the exterior of the building: white cantera, a Mexican stone which covers the outside walls; the glass of the gallery and the main staircase and the steel painted white of the pergolas.

The simplicity of the form of the building and its materials provides the city of León with a dignified, elegant and modern building on a scale appropriate to the urban context of the city.

The Guanajuato State Library hosted a dedication ceremony attended by Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox and other dignitaries on September 7, 2006.

The Guanajuato State Library, which was designed under strict cost constraints, was selected as one of eight recipients of the 2009  AIA/ALA Library Building Award. Biennially, representatives from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association (ALA) gather to celebrate the finest examples of library design by architects licensed in the United States.