Location: Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia

Type: Educational/Library

Client: Vatche Manoukian

Appointment: 2009 
Completion: 2012 

Area: 1,600 sqm

Height: 12 m

Status: Realized

Award: State Award of the Republic of Armenia

Library building and theological center "Vatche and Tamar Manoukian" built in a landscaped garden near the historic architectural complex of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. 

Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library is home to a substantial collection of rare and antiquarian books (at present approximately 400), including the earliest printed Armenian Bible, published in Amsterdam in 1666. There is a special Exhibition Room where books of particular historical or aesthetic value are to be displayed to the public. The staff of the library are trained in the handling and repair of antiquarian books, which are stored in a secure, climate-controlled environment in the basement of the building. All these books are available for use by researchers subject to arrangement with the library personnel. There are also plans to digitse the Mother See’s collection of manuscripts and rare books, which will thus be made accessible to the general public.

The library building was designed by the architect Artak Ghulyan, and represents a harmonious blend of traditional Armenian and modern architectural styles, full of light with tall windows looking out on the ancient church of St. Gayane with breathtaking views of Mount Ararat in the background. A bold and innovative interpretation of the classic forms of the Armenian stone architecture, beautifully drawn facades with a mean use of ornamental motifs, elegant, sculptural detailing the white stone forms, as well as monumental and tranquil silhouette of the total composition, gives the building a special character and luster.

It is equipped with all the facilities essential to a modern library, including generators to provide a permanent power source, and special provision to ensure that the books are not damaged by sprinklers in case of fire.

The building contains two spacious and elegant lecture halls, which have already played host to a number of international conferences. Another area is to be occupied by a team of academic researchers in the fields of ecclesiastical history, ecclesiastical literature and manuscripts, liturgical studies, and canon law, whose work will make a valuable contribution to the establishment of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin as an intellectual center of pan-Armenian and international importance.