Penrose Library, dedicated in 1972, had a distinctly modern and futuristic set of design choices.
Sally Hemmings of the University Park News Sentinel described Penrose Library as the antithesis of a traditional library, with its “terrible academic silence seeming to scowl on all who enter.” Hemmings noted the “bright bold color…furnishings and decor, and a prevailing impression of space and light,” that “gives one the feeling more of being inside a modern, avant-garde gallery than a library.”
The furniture in Penrose, especially the much-beloved “egg chair,” and the library’s “megaforms” matched this functional and futuristic design aesthetic perfectly.
The bright-orange main level contained many of what Gyo Obata, the library’s architect, called “megaforms” – tiers of different levels, covered with carpet, with seat backs formed by the next higher level, on which students could sprawl out, sit on, or use as they wished.
The ‘Egg Chair’
Affectionately known among patrons of Penrose Library as the “egg chair,” this 1963 design by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio is known more widely as the “Ball Chair,” and sometimes as the “globe chair.” The chair is a fiberglass design, with fabric upholstery. This much-beloved chair returned to the Anderson Academic Commons on March 1, 2013, and is available for any patron’s seating pleasure. You can also see Aarnio’s pastil chairs on the third floor of the Academic Commons, just to the left of the main stairs.