The Poetry Foundation is comprised of a building in dialogue with a garden created through erosion of an implied volume as described by the L-shaped property boundary. The garden interlocks with the building and is conceived as another "room," part of the building's slowly-unfolding spatial sequence revealed space by space, not unlike a poem is revealed line by line.
Visitors enter through the garden, an urban sanctuary that mediates between the street and enclosed building. Entering the garden, visitors first encounter the library space, announcing that they are entering into a literary environment. Inside, an exhibition gallery connects the library to the performance space, where visitors listen to poets read their work against the backdrop of the garden.
Public functions (performance space, gallery and library) are located on the ground floor, while office spaces are located on the second level, organized into three areas (Foundation Administration, Poetry magazine/website, and Programs). The building is configured to allow for views from all spaces into the garden.
Tectonically, the building is conceived of as a series of layers that visitors move through and between. Layers of zinc, glass, and wood, peel apart to define the various spaces of the building. The building's outer layer of oxidized zinc becomes perforated where it borders the garden, allowing visual access to the garden from the street to encourage public investigation.