Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
The Langston Hughes Library by Architect & Artist Maya Lin.
Located on the Alex Haley Farm near Clinton, Tennessee, Maya Lin’s extraordinary structure appears to rise from the landscape’s rolling hills almost as if it had always been there. This initial impression is then enveloped by the sense that one has happened upon something-quite by accident-that is completely awesome: a 100 year old barn takes flight.
Lin’s adaptive reuse of a century old barn on the property and vernacular elements from archetypal cabin forms of the region are the connective tissue uniting a structure that is at once boldly radical and comfortably contextual. Both suitable qualities for a place of reflection and inspiration.
The original barn structure is cantilevered over a structural base of two ‘corn cribs’ with a central ‘dog trot’. This iconic cabin form, however, is executed using reclaimed timber interwoven with glass.
'The design of the Langston Hughes Library maintains the integrity and character of the old barn while introducing a new inner layer. This integration of old and new allowed the artist to leave the main body of the building exposed and untouched and build the library within the existing structure.
The interior expresses the idea of a separate inner skin slipping inside the old barn. It is only at the points where the two layers meet that one becomes aware of the transition from old to new.’
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew.
[Excerpts from ‘Daybreak in Alabama’ by Langston Hughes.]