Established in 1810, Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno is the national and largest library in Argentina. Located in the capital city of Buenos Aires it was formed directly after the country’s revolution against Spain and is now named after its first director, Mariano Moreno. The library is housed in a Brutalist building designed by Clorindo Testa, Alicia D. Cazzanica, and Francisco Bullrich in 1961 but construction didn’t start until 1971 and wasn’t occupied until 1992. Today, the library houses over 900,000 books; 55,000 periodicals; 30,000 photographs and negatives; 12,000 maps; and 300,000 music sheets, among other items. Earlier this year, Biblioteca Nacional conducted a contest that received over 750 entries and the winning logo was designed by local firm B. Estudio.
The old logo was okay, with a Colonial-esque monogram of a “B” and an “N” (for Biblioteca Nacional) but it could have easily been a logo for a quaint hotel or restaurant and, as hard as it is to mess up Trajan, the wordmark managed to do so by setting it super tight. The new logo flips the importance from “Biblioteca Nacional” to “Mariano Moreno” by introducing a double-“M” monogram that cleverly doubles as a series of leaning books, ensuring that this logo couldn’t be used for a quaint hotel or restaurant. It’s a great monogram but also passes as an abstract icon as the “M”s are not an immediate read (which is a good thing). As much as I love the monogram there is one detail that drives me nuts… these two spaces within each “M” that are not exactly alike and they should be. Nonetheless, the double-“M”s match the Brutalist architecture and they have an envious simplicity to them. The wordmark, in Neue Haas Unica, is nice enough and complements the monogram well.
The applications range from great (those bookmarks!) to bad (those DVD covers!) and overall lack some finesse, especially in the typography sizing… everything is big and horsey and the recurring use of the thick stroke, which looks to be about 2pt — a kind of purgatory state for strokes, either go noticeably thin at .5pt or thick at 5 or 10pt — makes everything feel unnecessarily constrained. The tote bag below would look SO good with a thinner stroke or no stroke at all. The color palette is a little random somehow but it looks good in the icon.
Overall, this is a great logo that matches the architecture of the library, conveys “books”, and highlights its founding director’s name in a lovely, subtle nod. It almost makes you forget and forgive this was the result of a contest.