Library Upper Hall

The Upper Hall which is a part of the library’s atrium, is significant in it’s spatial design and details. Based on the incorporation of some finishes, materials, and details found in Moorish architecture the upper hall can be classified as important. This is more accurate than distinguishing it as premiere because it has fewer Moorish design details than other parts of the Legation, and in its place substitutes alternatives in finish and furnishing that are not consistent with Moorish design and that are more plain and most likely, more cost-effective. 

Starting with the floor finish, the maroon-glazed tile is laid in a simple grid with matching trim along the bottom of the wall. This is in contrast to the pinwheel pattern seen on the ground floor Central Hall. The walls are finished with white paint, as are the guardrail surrounding the opening to the ground floor. Wood forms the handrail at the top of the wall, with two stripes of matching trim adorning the bottom half of the opening.

Punched into the perimeter walls are pointed horseshoe-arch doors flanked by two similar pointed horseshoe-arch windows, consistent with Moorish design. The windows are operable, bi-fold panes of glass trimmed with painted-white frames. The cedar doors with vertical carving and brass-headed iron studs close the keyhole openings. Cedar, a hardwood found in the Middle Atlas forests of northern Morocco, are commonly used in Moroccan construction. On the fourth (cardinal direction) wall, two simple arches frame the stairwells. Placed on the wall and wall openings are paintings and small artifacts. In the corner, an olive and wood mid-century modern chair sits.

Along the guardrail in the opening to below, nine prints of Moroccan men are hung. Sitting on a wood table along the guardrail is a book of flags from countries around the world. Small perforated brass lanterns are hung at the peak of each keyhole door. Above them, wood molding frames the top of the wall, along with white-beams on corbels frame the skylight directly above the opening to below. Sculpted corbels are a part of Moroccan woodworking, however the simplicity of those in depart from the ‘muqarna’ or honeycomb carving. Between the beams and the wall are stained wood beams, spaced every 6 inches, and seen throughout the library.

A glass roof caps the atrium and provides light to the interior spaces and illuminates the large chandelier. The crown jewel of the atrium, a large perforated-brass and stained glass lantern hangs above the opening. The upper hall is in good condition, with no visible cracks, no chips or cracks in the paint or tiles, and well-finished wood doors, railings, and furniture. The windows and doors are operable and show no disrepair. Regular maintenance would require proper oiling of the cedar elements and regular cleaning of all other surfaces.