Book Haven Bookstore

displayToday I discovered a photo of Book Haven Bookstore posted to the web. I designed Book Haven some years ago, and it has since become a regional landmark in the rare book community.

The photograph, taken by Katherine Herrera in black and white, features the crystalline stillness of the books arrayed on their shelves whose lines of perspective takes our eye through windows to a place outside the bookstore, where through the glass we catch a glimpse of an atmospheric landscape – plantings, a majestic tree and further away, a building façade.

When I designed Book Haven, the raw space that was to become this landmark bookstore was neither majestic nor memorable. The walls, floor, ceiling had been stripped to their bare bones, and there was nothing to be seen within the empty space but raw concrete floor and walls and the exposed trusses above.

Excitingly that raw space turned out to adjoin Robert Louis Stevenson House to the east and Jules Simoneau Plaza with it’s Monterey Transit Plaza on Tyler Street to the west. In the brainstorming sessions leading up to the design, establishing a direct axis from the Transit Plaza to Robert Louis Stevenson House proved to be infeasible. Instead it was determined to focus the energy of Book Haven’s interior spaces to engage as directly and as fulsomely as possible with Tyler Street and the public plaza beyond. We envisioned a quiet, calm space with a public presence on Jules Simoneau Plaza.

Katherine Herrera’s photo clearly captures that original intent.

Less abstractly she tangibly captures the play of light on the palpable spines of the books, and the diffuse quality of the world beyond. Katherine was obviously in love with this interior. Her caption reads, “This is where I want my ashes scattered”.

Katherine’s photo won the “Photo of the Day Award” in the Capture Monterey Photo Contest in February, 2012. To visit the link to this award-winning photo, click here.


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