STELLAR AXIS, 1996
Alabaster, Brazilian blue granite, red marble, black polished granite, gold leaf, etched glass, steel, dimensions vary.
Palos Verdes Peninsula Center Library, Rolling Hills Estates, California
Architect: Zimmer, Gunsul & Frasca Partnership.
For Stellar Axis, Albuquerque conceived of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Center Library as a sculpture moving in space. Stellar Axis occupies four floors of lobby space and intersects the building at the angle of the Earth’s axis. A viewing tube protrudes from the roof thirteen feet in the air. The various sky objects that can be seen through the “window” are etched on glass doors on the third floor. Twice a year, the sun is directly overhead and fills a transparent onyx oval on the fourth floor. Each year, the public is invited to experience how fast the Earth is rotating around the sun by watching the light of the sun coming in from the viewing tube filling the oval. The remaining three floors each have a shallow gold leaf dome on the ceiling, reflected in an oval polished stone on the floor, going from gold to blue to red to black. From the fourth floor to the third floor is a gold leafed curved wall. A glass door on the third floor is etched with a poetic narrative of man’s gaze at the stars through time. These doors lead to a room that contains a glass book on a pedestal, containing a description of the sky objects etched on the transparent glass.