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A Commingling of Books and Modern Architecture in Mexico City

by planetnomad on November 29, 2011

While Mexico City is flush with the ever-popular haunts for visitors, sometimes it’s nice to step away from these spots and take in a different side of this urban wonder. Not far north of the Centro Histórico is a place where you can do just that. And, if you’re a bibliophile or fancy cool, modern architecture, consider yourself even luckier because Biblioteca Vasconcelos will satisfy both passions. Built in 2006 during the Fox Administration, this library is named after one of the City’s well-respected philosophers and educators, José Vasconcelos. Its impressive design was the brainchild of Mexican architect Alberto Kalach.


Just walking distance from the “Buena Vista” Metro stop, the library is a complex of three buildings in alignment with another. From the exterior they seem like your typical concrete, metal and glass office structures, but once inside the arrangement of space, light and flow of the building smacks of modern architectural ingenuity. The first thing you’ll notice is the cantilevered shelving that forms a cascading effect of books suspended throughout the central portion of the structure. This effect clearly stamps its signature on this impressive work by Kalach.

At different intervals spanning the eight floors, there are “viewing” spots where you can carefully gaze at the inner core of the library without any obstructions whatsoever. It’s here, where even an untrained eye, can appreciate the play of light, symmetry and architectural engineering at its best. If all this wasn’t impressive enough and once you’re settled in and beyond the “wow” factor of the interior, there are also terraces on several levels with great views of the City’s skyline, especially the ones facing west, capturing a great sunset.

Evening view from one of the upper terraces



Facilities for dance, theatre and film

Space for concerts, conferences, classes and art expositions

Multimedia, children’s and music areas



Inter-library borrowing system


Area:  41,288 square meters distributed over eight levels

Garden area:  26,000 square meters including over 168 species of vegetation

Library holdings:  In excess of 1.5 million books

Computers with internet access:  617

Study areas:  4000

Auditorium seating capacity:  498

** Facts courtesy of CONACULTA & Biblioteca Vasconcelos


Located in the colonia “Buena Vista”, near the corner of Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta & Aldama.

Near the “Buena Vista” Metro station


OPEN:  Daily, 8:30am-7:30pm


I am a contributing writer for the Mexico Today Project, which, along with Marca País – Imagen de México “ is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.”

Disclaimer:  **Please note that I am being compensated for participation in this project and for attending its launch in Oaxaca. Also note that all posts and written contributions by me will be expressed in an unbiased form with all opinions reflecting my own.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley May 21, 2012 at 12:32 am

What a fantastic library! Love the interior!

planetnomad May 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

It really is a very uniquely-designed library Ashley & if you have a chance you should definitely visit someday!

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