Dean Stern to discuss architectural legacy of Beinecke Library

Robert A.M. Stern, dean of Yale School of Architecture, will present an architectural history of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a once-controversial building that is now a center of research for scholars worldwide.

Robert A.M. Stern

Stern’s talk, “Lux et Libri: Beinecke at Fifty,” will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Beinecke, 121 Wall St. The event is free and open to the public.

Stern’s lecture kicks off the Beinecke’s celebration of its 50th anniversary. In addition to discussing the architectural legacy of the building, he will speak about the role of the Beinecke on the Yale campus.

Stern is founder and senior partner of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, and winner of the Driehaus Prize for lifelong achievement in architecture. He is an early and ardent advocate of the preservation of modernist architecture, as well as a practicing architect, an academic, and an author.

The Beinecke is one of the largest buildings in the world devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts. Gordon Bunshaft’s stark modern design for the building made it a center of controversy even before it officially opened in 1963. 

The building is constructed of marble, granite, bronze, and glass. The exterior “jewel box” is composed of panes of 1.25-inch thick marble. White and grey from the outside, the marble glows warm amber on the interior, allowing filtered light to enter without damaging the rare contents. Inside the building, a six-story tower of books is encased in glass and surrounded by a mezzanine that is used for rotating exhibitions, lectures by preeminent thinkers, and musical performances — all free and open to the public. 

The Beinecke will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a year-long series of events, including poetry readings and concerts, as well as exhibitions of rarely seen manuscripts, printed objects, and images from across all curatorial areas. In addition to ongoing musical and literary events, the celebration will feature lectures by such well-known individuals as U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, and novelist and literary critic Umberto Eco, among others. 

Additional information about the Beinecke’s 50th anniversary is available at: