The medieval town of Ulm in the southwest of Germany was all but destroyed by Allied air raids in World War II. Attempts to restore the trade city's historical buildings while remaining forward-thinking are reflected in the form of the new public library, which took on one of the oldest, most instantly recognizable architectural shapes: the pyramid. This glass-clad version of one of the ancient wonders of the world, however, uses cutting-edge technology. Its double-skinned glass facade covers a steel and aluminium curtain wall, while the airspace between those two layers of skin is harnessed for climate control―the building can be naturally ventilated on every level. A central, circular staircase functions as a 'vertical street' weaving up through the building, leading to a reading café and community area on the building's top floor.