With direct vantage points to Dealey Plaza, the Sixth Floor Museum Reading Media Room overlook the infamous site of President John F. Kennedys assassination. Situated on the first floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, this immersive ship-in-a-bottle environment allows for such a powerful event to permeate its walls becoming essential to the narrative that is protected within the space. A resource center that brings history to light where one can experience Abraham Zapruders film footage while looking out at the exact place where Zapruder was standing as he recorded History.
Tri-dimensional projections of the framed views into Dealey Plaza extend inside and become bookcases that store and protect the collection. A translucent glass shroud within the suite allows for additional secure shelving area, the books themselves being the main artifacts on display. The series of custom, tempered glass horizontal planes surround the book collection without obstructing the views, in high contrast with the historic nature of the building. The planes appear to float, being supported by glass fins that extend the full height of the room and attach to the 1901 warehouses structural beams and floor. A dichroic film facing the southern exposure protects the collection from sun damage. The film appears to move as the visitor travels along the room, obscuring and revealing portions of the collection. Mounted to the glass panels are state of the art interactive monitors that make the collection accessible in digital form with movable arms mounted to the glass panels that in conjunction with the flexible furniture, allow for different research configurations.
The new home for the museums collection offers unprecedented access to nearly 5,000 volumes; 1,000 videos, more than 700 video-recorded interviews and public programs and some 2,000 historic magazines and journals, all of them related to the life, death and legacy of President J.F. Kennedy. The space welcomes a diverse range of researchers, students and educators, all from the local community and worldwide. It is also intended for staff workshops, and long distance educational sessions. A media room adjacent to the library is used as a video recording studio that allows the museum to grow their oral histories collection, particularly as the museum approaches its 50th anniversary.
Our project was addressed through the early establishment of three axioms to guide the design:
The space must be perceived in its entirety. Interior partitions that were added in subsequent phases of adaptations in the building were demolished. This allowed for the program to explode from within, creating the sense of a larger room within the boundaries of the heavy pine square milled columns and beams. At the Library the double hung wooden windows, set in masonry load bearing walls via structural masonry arches were left intact and exposed. Their protection was paramount during review by the Texas Historical Commission and during the librarys construction. Dealey Plaza should be perceived from every point. The library, on the first floor of 411 Elm, has direct vantage points to the site of the event. Intervention will neither emulate nor hide the existing conditions. Through the careful attention to connectors all interior detailing had the ultimate purpose of respecting the historic buildings envelope by contrast with contemporary clean-lined interventions. For example, the structural connectors of the book shelves and glass shroud in the Library.