- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 23 Aug 2017
National Library of Latvia
The National Library was originally formed in 1919, shortly after Latvia was proclaimed an independent country at the end of the First World War. The growth of the library over the decades meant that the stock was divided between various locations across the city of Riga.
Birkerts took as inspiration for his design, the idea of a crystal mountain, which in Latvian folklore symbolises the height of achievement and the commitment required to attain it. The ‘castle of light’ is an evocative metaphor in Latvian culture for lost wisdom that will be regained once the population is able to overcome occupation and war.
The building is 68 m high, 170 m long, and takes the form of an asymmetric triangular slab topped with a jagged crown. It is a concrete structure clad with glass, with steel-framed higher floors. Its glassy slopes mirror the spires that shape the skyline of Riga’s Old Town across the river.
The project was completed in 2014 to its 193 million euro budget, and is used for a variety of cultural purposes, including conferences and conventions. A prominent landmark on Riga’s skyline, it is considered one of Latvia’s greatest cultural projects of the 21st century.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Cathedral of Brasilia.
- Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.
- Kunsthaus Graz.
- Sage Gateshead.
- Tempe Municipal Building.
- Tianjin Binhai Library.
- Unusual building design of the week.
- Western City Gate, Belgrade.
 External resources
Featured articles and news
Guidance offered for stained glass window maintenance.
Define need before determining viability.
Framework examines social value of projects.
RfX or Request for [fill in the blank].
Organisation establishes Equality, Diversity, Inclusion taskforce.
Government announces plans for new building projects.
Outsourcing method to procure and manage supplies.
Joint support of Local Authority Historic Environment and Conservation Services.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is an outstanding achievement.
Buildings of the interwar years. Book review.
Ireland’s climate change sectoral adaptation plan.
Rethinking the acoustics of the office.
Various deterrent measures can help managers deal with avian problems.
Groups send message to government.
Mark Beard FCIOB shares thoughts on changes in the construction industry.