Poetry Center Building Honored for its Design

The American Institute of Architects recently honored the design work of the UA's Helen S. Schaefer Building.
Nov. 26, 2008
The Jeremy Ingalls Gallery looks into the Michael and Helen Dobrich Library within the Helen S. Schaefer Building. (Credit: Robert Reck)
The Jeremy Ingalls Gallery looks into the Michael and Helen Dobrich Library within the Helen S. Schaefer Building. (Credit: Robert Reck)
The Helen S. Schaefer Building houses the UA Poetry Center and (Credit: Robert Reck)
The Helen S. Schaefer Building houses the UA Poetry Center and (Credit: Robert Reck)
The building has both indoor and outdoor seating areas, such as the Hillman Odeum. (Credit: Robert Reck)
The building has both indoor and outdoor seating areas, such as the Hillman Odeum. (Credit: Robert Reck)

Another one of The University of Arizona's architectural feats has been recognized for its design.

The American Institute of Architects Southern Arizona chapter recently honored the design work of the Helen S. Schaefer Building.

Les Wallach, a UA alum, architect and founder of Line and Space LLC in Tucson, took the chapter's 2008 Citation Award for designing the building, which is home to both the Humanities Seminars Program and the University's Poetry Center.

The building is quite versatile, serving a range of users in multiple ways, said Gail Browne, executive director of the UA Poetry Center.

The building, she noted has quiet enclaves for "reading and reflection." With both indoor and outdoor presentation spaces, lecture rooms and meeting spaces, the building is quite accommodating. It also contains a "Children's Corner" for familiy activiites and a rare books room.

"So, the building provides space all of these programs in an integrated and graceful way," Browne added. "At the same time, it's a distinctly beautiful building with intriguing lines and angles and poetic gestures reflected throughout."

The Schaefer Building, which houses one of the nation's largest collections of contemporary poetry, was dedicated in 2007.

The judges praised the design of the building by saying: "Strongly program-driven, this project revels in the contradictions inherent in the building's functions. It walks a fine line between being secure and being accessible, between being filled with natural light and protecting its precious collection from damage the light might provoke."

The Poetry Center was founded in 1960 and contains more than 60,000 items, such as books, photographs, journals, recordings and other items.

When the building opened last year, it was the first time since the end of the 1970s that the Poetry Center's collection was able to be housed under one roof.

Line and Space LLC representatives stated in a news release: "It has been a pleasure to work with the UA Poetry Center on their new home. The Poetry Center is deserving of a landmark facility to house and share the country's foremost collection of contemporary poetry. The University and the community are very fortunate that the Poetry Center calls Tucson its home."