Sunday, February 24, 2013

State Library of Tasmania heritage listed (Glass + Brutalism)

The State Library of Tasmania located in Hobart city has been recognised for its heritage values and has been listed on the state heritage register.  The listing applies to two distinct buildings that form the State library, the glass curtain wall design (1962) and the Brutalist concrete tower (1972).
The buildings are both very interesting examples of their respective styles. The glass curtain wall building must have been a real eye opener when it was designed.  Similarly the concrete tower in 1972 would have been on of Hobart's tallest buildings, and today would still rate as one of its tallest.
I like how 50 years on that the glass panels look so clean as if they were erected yesterday.  They make wonderful abstract reflections for photographs, capturing the buildings aesthetic qualities.  The 1962 building houses the main public library lending area, whilst the 1972 tower is home to the library archive material.  I have always thought it quite fitting that the Brutalist archive tower block is housed is in this style, it's like a bunker protecting the priceless materials within.
The 1962 glass curtain wall was designed by Melbourne architect, John Scarborough.  Something I love about photographing buildings is viewing a designers other buildings and seeing their similar links.  Scarborough designed another wonderful library in Hobart, the Morris Miller Library at the University of Tasmania. Both have interesting interior details, whilst the glass paneling on the Morris Miller Library is red.  I have been undertaking special projects on both libraries, and will bring more of my photos and archive material to my blog in the future.
I have a love for staircases and the 1962 State Library doesn't disappoint. The first thing you witness as you enter the library is the "floating" staircase.  It's an amazing structure in itself as is the original 1960s clock that still works today!  The main lending area is an open space, and the feeling of lightness and sunlight from all directions is totally apparent as you walk up the stairs to the first floor.  These glass curtain wall buildings are great for a cold climate like Hobart as they let the natural light into the building.  Great news that two 20th Century buildings in Tasmania have been recognised for their heritage values to the State.

I love these buildings so much that the 1972 building has been the main photograph on my twitter account, check it out at


  1. The glass curtain wall buildings are truly important for a climate like Hobart as they let toms of natural light into the building.

    Especially, I would add, for a building like the state library where good vision and working conditions are critical.

  2. Brilliant photos. I have wonderful memories of visiting the State Library in the 1970s when I was studying in Hobart. Practically lived in the University Library. Thank you for the photos and helping to preserve these wonderful buildings.


About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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