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9
Apr
Beyond Nob Hill

Beyond Nob Hill: The Floating Cube San Pedro Branch Library, Fifty Years On...

Chris Lucas
I
April 9, 2021

Floating Cubes: The San Pedro Branch Library


A quirky building that's worth a visit sits along a busy residential street on South San Pedro, in the International District. (Probably) built in the late-1960's, the San Pedro Library seems to consist of large rounded-corner rectangular cubes, all floating slightly above the ground. It's a fabulous Mid-Mod Brutalist style building; I'd passed by it dozens of times & never noticed it.

What brought it to attention is a recent ABQ Museum show that spotlighted photographs of people & places in the MetroABQ. The show, "Let the Sunshine In," featured images from the late 1960's. Among the dozens of excellent images on display, the Library stood out. Turns out, it's easy to find. 

Above is a cropped version of "San Pedro Branch Library 1969," the image from the show. The photographer, Robert McDonald, clearly had an eye for architecturally interesting buildings. Capturing on film a building that resembles gigantic salt-&-pepper shakers is a worthy endeavor...

There was not much information to be found online about the architecture of the San Pedro Public Library. The Albuquerque Public Library's Special Collections Library,in the Huning Highlands neighborhood, could shed more light on the building's origins. A local website Modern Albuquerque is a also a great place to land for info on the subject.

UPDATE: Thea Haver, one of the talents behind Modern Albuquerque, sent me the two clippings below, mentioning the library, & naming the architect. Haver's info:

It won an Honor Award in 1967 and was designed by John Reed (who also designed the sanctuary currently in use by St. Timothy's Lutheran Church & the demolished Marble/Marberry Plaza). The newspaper article attached shows a rare vintage interior photo (though the article doesn't relate to the project as much as it does Roswell's desire for something similar).

There is also a small blurb about the library in the MetroABQ Mid-Century Survey 2013, a City-sponsored research paper focusing on architecture during the mid-years of the last century.It read: Many of the city’s libraries built in the 1950s & 1960s were originally designed with prominent Modernist features. Unfortunately, several of these have undergone considerable architectural modifications since their construction, which have eliminated or masked many of their features. The survey identified two libraries that still retained their Modernist styling: the Main Library located downtown & the San Pedro branch at 5600 Trumbull Ave. SE.

How does it look fifty+ years later? Above is the San Pedro Branch Library today. It's still interesting, albeit a different color & more ADA compliant; & it's been kept up nicely,mostly withstanding the tests of time. The library is worth a look.

Getting there: South of Zuni on San Pedro you are in the South San Pedro Neighborhood. The library is on the southwest corner of Trumbull Ave SE. The entire area sits in District Six, which stretches from the Silver Hill neighborhood at the University, east almost to Four Hills, as north as Lomas Blvd & south to Mesa del Sol. The International District, home to the floating library, is one of the most diverse area of the city & boasts a large number of international restaurants & grocery stores.

A great map of the District is here.

...

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