Mt. Angel Abbey Library | St. Benedict, Oregon
Alvar Aalto, Architect
Photographed by Scott M B Gustafson on 22 February, 2014
In the early 1960s, library director Fr. Barnabas Reasoner, OSB approached the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto to design a new library building for the abbey. A report of that meeting was published in the March 1966 issue of the Mount Angel Abbey Library Bulletin. Because of his love of libraries and the special qualities of the Mount Angel Abbey site, Aalto agreed to design the library for a nominal fee. The building was completely funded through the generosity of Howard and Jean Vollum, who also contributed to the library's endowment.
The architecture of the Abbey Library reflects and shapes its spirit and purpose. The building's natural light illumines the multi-color bindings of the books which are offered on open stacks against a disciplined black and white background, softened by undulating curves and light colored wood. The structure, including three stories and a mezzanine, was completed in 1970. The entire library, with the exception of the bottom floor, is awash in natural light.