Tag Archives: library

Mid-Century Asheville | From the Archives

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 3.13.49 PMTake a look at this cool, hand drawing by architect Henry Gaines of the SIX Associates. I found this beauty scrolling through the NC Collection at the Pack Library. This drawing was rendered in 1947 as a concept for a home in Biltmore Forest. However, there is no address on it or confirmation it was ever built. Gaines design many homes in Biltmore Forest.

In Asheville there is little archives at the city level on the design history of homes. However, NC Collection is one of the few sources, along with UNCA, that retains some records. Recently, all of SIX Associates drawings were donated special-collections-comto the collection. As a CALL TO ACTION I know many homeowners with original drawings from their mid-century and architectural homes. Do your community a favor and drop them off at Pack Library to have scanned for the archives before they deteriorate or our lost in time. I recently dropped off some plans drawn by architect Bert King from a 1950’s home in the Grove Park neighborhood to be scanned. If you have them…share them. That’s our plea to you today. Cheers!

NC Special Collections and Architectural Drawings

Hi Folks. I wanted to spread the word about an effort that is near and dear to my heart. Last year the NC Special Collections department at the Library inherited the former Six Associates original architectural drawings and cabinets. Since then they have been slowly working to archive them. I have regularly stopped by to speak with Anne, Lyme and Zoe who work there to check in on their progress and see how I can be of help in spreading the word or help raise resources. It affords me the opportunity to look at the original hand drawings and details of some beautiful homes. Special Collections Com[

First, I would like to take a moment to thank Henco for donating the large format scanner they have currently along with providing technical assistance. THANK YOU HENCO!!! The Library’s goal is to scan all the original drawings and place them in safe, environmentally controlled storage while making the digital scans available to the public online. Yeah!IMG_3243

Supported by our local AIA Chapter the Special Collections team at the Library is going after a grant to acquire a new scanner that has updated software and hours to hire on people to do the scanning and documenting. They are also working to come up with a program {Scan A Plan} where the general public can bring in the original drawings they have and they will be scanned and preserved for future generations. However, if you do have such drawings feel free to talk with them today. There is a good chance they can help. They are as passionate about this as I am. This doesn’t always include residential drawings – there are many commercial buildings designed by some of our notable architects. Our wonderful library itself is a Bert King design, as well as, many large and small office, bank and doctor’s buildings around town.

As many of you who have called me over the years know, there are little records and drawings with the city for older buildings. This is your opportunity to help. If you have drawings from a special home or building it would be a great time to share. Thank you for listening and I would appreciate your effort in this.

Thank you…thank you!


Pack Memorial Library

img_487967 Haywood St., Downtown

Designed by: J. Bertram King

Dedicated: November 18th, 1978

“Designing a new library is a lot like designing a new supermarket.   You need to display the merchandise attractively, sensibly and easily accessible to the customer.  You also need to get enough light on the subject.”  These were some of the comments by Asheville architect Bertram King when designing the Pack Memorial Library in the 1970’s.  Planning for the new library started in 1966 when the library trustees put together a program for the new library.  The opening took place on Nov. 20, 1978.  The building cost approx. $1,741,000 to build and was paid for by Buncombe county voters approving a special bond. 



Reading some of the architect’s original comments on his design you can start to understand the construction.  Along with ease of function, King, was considerate to use some basic green design elements.  He took advantage of the sloping site to incorporate sunken courtyards that allow for natural light into the lower levels.  The 1970’s decade produced many sealed buildings that focused on using air conditioning and the latest in mechanical systems.  However, as King states, “We have reverted to an older, less expensive system with the new library building.  It’s called opening the window”.  Between the natural ventilation and insulated glass there was an effort made to lower energy use.  a944-8-copy3

 When standing at the corner of the building one can appreciate how the building unfolds.  It is like a stage set for browsing and reading books.  The glass, angles and setbacks of this modern design allow you to see the function throughout and the relationship from inside to outside.  The building has a simple elegance and is comfortable in proportion and scale.  Ignoring some issues in urban context and function similar to many modern buildings of the era, the thoughtfulness behind King’s design as with many of his buildings comes through. img_48811

See Bertram King on the right to find out more about his Asheville designs.  

(text by Troy Winterrowd, photos courtesy of Troy and Pack Library)