The recently created Moelis Family Grand Reading Room in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center was named for Ellen and Herbert Moelis, W’53, in honor of his 85th birthday by his children (Ron, C’78, W’78 and Kerry; Ken, W’80, WG’81 and Julie, W’81; Cindy, W’82; and Robert) and their grandchildren (Jordan, W’09 WG’10; Andrew, C’10; Cory, W’11, WG’18; Madelyn, W’12; Stephanie; Adam, W’14; Kate, C’16; Claire; Paige, W’19; and Alexander). The 5,500 square-foot reading room was made possible through a 2016 gift from the Moelis Family.
Already the winner of two awards from the 2017 International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the PA/NJ/DE chapter’s Viewer’s Choice Award and the Best in Education Award, the Moelis Family Grand Reading Room is a space for quiet study and reflection at the east end of the first floor of the University of Pennsylvania’s main library. It responds to a desire for quieter space for reflective study following recent renovations more directed toward collaboration and communication among students.
Among the room’s many features is the majestic wool mural, Fields of Transformation (left), by renowned Dutch fiber artist Claudy Jongstra. Using wool from sheep she raised herself, Ms. Jongstra produced an object that soundproofs the space and elevates the experience of studying in a Penn Library. The mural, a primary design feature of the reading room, is comprised of three huge pieces that vary in dimension, the largest being over 19 feet high by 49 feet wide and made of felted wool and pure silk.
Ms. Jongstra said, “Lots of people will be mindfully reading and studying in this library, thus opening up and coming into contact with unknown worlds that’s also what this art piece is about.”
According to the artist’s statement, “This soft, generous artwork opens and subtly defines the space where knowledge transforms into insight and eternal wisdom by visualizing the change as it moves from the head to the heart. The source of knowledge is blue, from the indigo plant on the wool from the ancient Drenthe Heath Sheep, combining eastern and western hemispheres of knowledge of the past that is stewarded by the library. One of the oldest fibers known to man, the shiny, pure white threads from the Chinese silkworm show the intellectual stage of active knowledge, derived in the mind from research with the help of new connections and profound understanding; completely reflective, white awakens openness and growth. Chamomile, an age-old dyer’s plant, renders its glow to the warm yellow heart, where the dynamic transformation of information into golden wisdom takes place, through engagement, curiosity and irrational creativity to shape the future.”
The lighting system, which utilizes dimmable LEDs, maintains consistent light levels throughout the day by adjusting the electric lights to balance the level of daylight within the space. Pendant mounted LED downlights provide ambient lighting and are arranged to create a starry night effect, complementing the mural’s theme. This connection to nature, combined with the ample amount of daylight in the space, creates a grand and unique room.”