Trinity Pays Tribute to Architect Paul Koralek

It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of Paul Koralek, the renowned architect who originally designed the iconic modernist Berkeley Library.

The 1960s building was considered a beacon of modernism for Trinity, Dublin and Ireland. More importantly it hailed a new era for students and researchers, opening up the Library collections to a much wider readership.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin was honoured by the architect’s presence on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Berkeley Library in 2017 when he gave a public interview in Trinity College.

“It is where it all started,” he said as he walked around the Berkeley Library during that historic visit.

Commenting on the architect’s passing, College Librarian and Archivist, Helen Shenton said:

“Paul had a long-standing relationship with the Library, Trinity and Ireland. Many of us who had the privilege to know him formed a deep respect and admiration for him and we have especially fond memories of his recent visit in 2017. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to his daughters Lucy and Katy on this very sad occasion.”

“The Berkeley Library when built transformed library services for our students and readers. It was a modern library not just for Trinity, but for Ireland. Paul’s architectural vision for this modernist building played a critical role in making this possible.”

Paul Koralek’s Architectural Vision for the Berkeley Library

The architect, Paul Koralek was just 28 when he won the international competition in 1961 for a new library building. The highest standards of design were commanded by an international competition and the award was publicly announced by the then Lord Mayor of the winning architect, the young New York based architect Paul Koralek. Dublin of the 1960s featured buildings such as Busáras, Liberty Hall and Hawkins House and the new Berkeley Library was to join this cityscape. Considered one of the finest modern buildings in Ireland, the Berkeley Library is a pure example of the “Brutalist” style of bare concrete architecture popularised by le Corbusier.

Koralek’s innovative use of concrete, poured into wooden moulds gives it the impression of wood grain on the surface of the concrete slabs. Contractors G and T Crampton built it, with Koralek overseeing the meticulous mixing of concrete on site. When complete, it doubled the reading space as well as storage for books for the College, which also involved the employment of 57 new members of staff. Moreover, it provided a unique reading experience where the reader was prioritised. It was officially opened in 1967 by the President Éamon De Valera.

Open House Festival: tours of the Berkeley Library – Saturday 12 October

As part of this year’s Open House Festival, the Berkeley Library is being opened up for public tours from 11:00 to 16:00 on Saturday 12 October. This is a special opportunity to welcome members of the public to experience ‘Ireland’s finest modern building’.

The tours are likely to involve some minor noise disruption, particularly on the upper floors, but every effort will be taken to minimise the impact. Please note that alternative quiet study spaces will be available in the Lecky and Ussher libraries.

If you would like to offer any feedback please contact Peter Dudley (peter.dudley@tcd.ie).

Open House Festival: tours of the Berkeley Library – Saturday 14th October

As part of this year’s Open House Festival, the Berkeley Library – 50 years old this year – is being opened up for public tours from 12:00 to 16:00 on Saturday 14th October. This is a special opportunity to welcome members of the public to experience ‘Ireland’s finest modern building’.

The tours are likely to involve some minor noise disruption, particularly on the upper floors, but every effort will be taken to minimise the impact. Please note that alternative quiet study spaces will be available in the Lecky and Ussher libraries.

If you would like to offer any feedback please contact Peter Dudley (peter.dudley@tcd.ie).

Friends of the Library Lecture: The Berkeley @ 50

The Friends of the Library – Trinity College Dublin are delighted to announce their next lecture. As well as being a Friends of the Library event, it also features in the wider Berkeley50 year of celebrations, and admission is free to mark this. All welcome! Enquiries to 01 8961544 or LibraryFriends@tcd.ie.

Not just a building – not just a library: The Berkeley @ 50

Trevor Peare

19:30, Thursday 6 April 2017
Thomas Davis Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

Trevor Peare, a Trinity graduate (Natural Science 1972), retired as Keeper (Readers’ Services) in 2015 having been on the Library staff for 43 years. Known for his affection of the Berkeley Library, he has given countless tours of the building to Trinity’s students, to architects and to the just curious over the years. As Keeper (Systems) in the 1990s, he oversaw the introduction of mainstream automation in the Library in parallel with the development of the Internet, the World Wide Web and into buildings designed before any of that was anticipated. Trevor is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and of the Library Association of Ireland.

Berkeley50 – A Year of Celebrations

Our iconic Berkeley Library is 50 years old this year – and we need your help to celebrate!

Every week, we will release a new post on the Berkeley50 website – check out the first ones there already. We need your photos and stories to make this work. Can you help?

Some of the stories will be about the time before the opening, when Trinity was pulling together the funds and deciding on the design. This is a snippet from the film that was released in 1958 to help fundraise:

We will be hosting a series of events to celebrate the anniversary. Follow the events and stories on Twitter using #berkeley50.