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Erdy McHenry Architecture
915 Orianna Street
Philadelphia PA 19123
215.925.7000
info@em-arc.com
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Marks Cafe

Mark’s Café is part of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Housing over 3,000,000 books, the library is an important student destination for both research and study. The café is located on the ground floor and provides both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a place where young people can refuel, meet fellow students, hold intellectual discussion, coordinate group projects, and meet informally with faculty.

Named after Mark Goldstein (C’83), Penn alumnus and son of Library Overseer Bernard Goldstein (W’53), the Café opened in 2003.

The creation of this new interactive space within the library provides a place for the free exchange of ideas in a more casual setting. The space, defined by a minimal enclosure, is fabricated as a modified möbius. The continuity of the möbius is implied by a normative shearing at logical points of access and transition. The enclosure provides an implied spatial boundary, while maintaining a presence of  “the beyond”. This foreground/background experience mimics the iterative process of learning in the present through tacit observation and interaction, while always evaluating and referencing the context of codified knowledge of the library.

The möbius extends out from the café to greet visitors from the elevator lobby and Goldstein Undergraduate Study Center. The opposite end of the möbius dematerializes into a sheet of water, providing a medium for rear-projection at night.

It is the intent of the library to create a “cool-tech” environment, where cutting-edge technology is wrapped in a soft enclosure. The priority of the donor is to provide outstanding, European coffee, enabling students to spend longer hours in an environment of study and inquiry.

The space is technologically advanced and fully wireless. Students and faculty can proceed with their work in the café by utilizing wireless laptops both indoors and outdoors.

The café opens directly to the outdoors, reclaiming an existing underused sunken courtyard that faces College Green. This area produces an additional seating area that alots for twenty-five people.