BEST PUBLIC BUILDING - 1998
There's nothing quite like stepping into the Great Reading Room for the first time and having your gaze drawn up, way up, to the dark-paneled ceiling; like straining to see the walls of books, two stories high and ringed by wrought-iron balconies; like running your hands over the granite columns that could be holding up the Acropolis. Never mind that these days the massive oak tables are topped by computer monitors and CD-ROM drives, or that what was once an encyclopedic reference collection has developed a strong business focus. This place remains--and that, no doubt, was the intent of its railroad-baron founder--as close to a religious experience as you'll get outside church, synagogue, or mosque. You have entered the Temple of Knowledge. Now can you find the Grail?