Design

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Left to right: Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde, Architects. Olin Library North Elevation, 1960; Myrtle Desk Company. Working Drawings for Olin Library Dictionary Stand and Atlas Case, 1960; Detail; Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde, Architects. Color Schedule for Olin Library, 1960. All: University Archives.

Following architects’ design specifications, the Myrtle Desk Company (High Point, North Carolina) built custom furniture to match Olin’s modernistic paneling. Working drawings were approved by the University Librarian’s office and Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde, the architectural firm that oversaw the construction of the building. Designs mixed wooden elements with metal legs at sharp right angles, echoing the grids that dominate the building inside and out.

Olin’s architects created an unusual color scheme that specified bright wall colors and bold textures for many parts of the building. Considered together, the colors are very much a part of mid-century design concepts — teal, pea green, and pale blue, set against bright oranges and reds. The card catalog area on the first floor, a prime destination for researchers, sported a wall painted entirely in vivid “Red No. 2.” Also on the first floor, the Wason Collection Reading Room was paneled in “W/P6,” a fibrous texture meant to reflect the exotic nature of its collections, devoted to east and southeast Asia.

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