Geisel Library

July 15, 2009 — Seven months ago, I wrote about my visit to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA, which features various bronze versions of Seuss’ characters as well as one of himself. In that entry, I mentioned that a second casting of that latter piece had been placed in La Jolla, CA. Seven months ago, I was trusting the Internet for that fact. Now I can personally attest to it.

To me, there’s something comforting about having a pair of matching Dr. Seuss statues balancing the entire country, one on each coast and at opposite corners like paperweights securing a large, curling document instead of a mere country. It makes me think we need giant countryweights at each corner of the nation. Or nationweights at each corner of the country. Actually, somebody really does need to get on that art project. What good is it having a rectangular-ish country if we aren’t flaunting it.

The West Coast version of Dr. Seuss sits on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and is identical to the one in Springfield. A bespectacled Seuss smiles grandfatherly in an easy chair adorned with tiny houses while he rests his foot on a drawing table littered with implements and a six-foot-tall Cat in the Hat stands beside him with all the primness of a wife beside her cheating politician husband at a press conference. But in La Jolla, the statue is placed in front of one of the major gems of architectural bibliotechery, the Geisel Library.

That’s right. Of all the worthies stocking the shelves of that library, all the authors who have enlightened souls, probed the depths of knowledge, discovered the wonders of the universe, and altered the way the world works, the library is, of course, named for Dr. Seuss.

Actually, the library’s technically named for both Seuss and his wife, Audrey. Their real surname was Geisel, and they were faithful donors to that establishment throughout their lives in La Jolla, where they moved in 1948. After Seuss’ death in 1991, much of his archives was also donated to the library, some of which it displays on occasion, and then in 1995 they went all in and changed the name of the library from the overtly bland (especially considering its design) University Library Building to the much more distinguished Geisel Library.

But the Seuss connection to this edifice, despite the fact that I’ve spent five paragraphs on it so far, is irrelevant to why the library is getting its own article space on OTIS. Regardless of its name and who’s enstatuated in front of it, the library is simply eye-boggling.

Finished in 1970, this glass and concrete building rises 110-feet in the air, and its eight floors are cantilevered, giving it the appearance of a princess-cut diamond for some planet-eating bride-to-be or some futuristic structure out of [spins Mental Wheel of Random Cultural Allusions for a science fiction movie and gets...] Logan’s Run. My Mental Wheel of Random Cultural Allusions always seems to stop at Logan’s Run.

The building is located in the middle of the UCSD campus at the end of Library Walk, and is easily found using their online campus maps. The college even uses a stylized version of this already stylized piece of architecture in their official logo.

We visited the library on a solidly overcast and foggy morning, and the colorless sky and hazy atmosphere made the thing look like some malevolent machine city that had destroyed the firmament in its war against humankind. However, in sunnier times, when every window shines and reflects like the facets of the jewel in that silly simile I’ve already made and don’t want to make ever again, it’ll cause visitors to think they’re about to see the Wizard instead of just going in to check out a book about him. In addition, at night, with all the windows lighted, it’s a whole different type of impressive.

Since it was a weekend morning, and this was a college, the library was pretty much a ghost town, heightening the robots-have-taken-over feel. Moving about below its jutting stories on their way to entering its book-lined confines were a few sandal-clad and puffy-faced students, not one of whom stopped to look up at the wonder they were about to enter and were privileged to call their library. Can’t blame them, though, I guess. Wonder does cease.

Unfortunately, we didn’t enter the building ourselves. We had a plane to catch. In hindsight, though, I wish I had, if only so that I could have posed for a shot like the first scene of the opening credits to Simon & Simon. Inside, I’m sure it’s just a regular-looking library with a nice view of the campus, and I base that on the fact that it’s much harder to find interior pictures of the place online than it is to find exterior shots. Also, those grapes are probably sour, anyway.