Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

The Hague City Hall & Central Library

The Hague, The Netherlands

1986 - 1995

This continuous mega-structural galleria, 800 by 250 feet, effectively establishes The Hague’s new city center, together with a concert hall, hotel, and dance theater to the southeast and a multiuse cultural center to the south. Within its overall volume is the main public library, a council chamber, cafés, exhibition spaces, and a wedding room. The city hall provides office space on either side of the top-lit public galleria. This enclosed public realm extends into a semi-independent rental office building at its northeast end, while extensive, small-scale retail space runs throughout its ground floor.

The 10 and 12-story horizontal office slabs diverge at an angle of 10.5 degrees to match the grain of the city. The slabs flank a large internal atrium that forms the new res publica of the municipality known as the Citizens Hall.

The main library, with its concentric semicircular plan, is located at the northwest end of the complex, where its dynamic form gives definition to the intersecting streets. Opposite the library and adjacent to the main entrance to the city hall is a well-known local furniture store that occupies part of the space beneath the library. In the ground-floor foyer are a reception counter, a café, and freestanding escalators that serve the library floors above.

The monitor-lit glass roof of the atrium is carried on deep beams. Aerial bridges spanning the atrium at two points further interrupt the longitudinal axis. These are served by elevator shafts with fully glazed elevator cabins. These light, elegant structures in painted white steel are intended to appear as dematerialized screens subdividing the large perspectival volume into three different zones. The council chamber itself is situated prominently to one side of the main entrance. Its upper surface, visible from the flying bridges, provides an informal space for the councilors to meet the general public.

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