Filefront Link to Interactive Posters - http://www.filefront.com/17468984/Arch1390
The Phillips Exeter Academy Library at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire is the largest secondary school library in the world. Its most notable feature is a dramatic atrium with enormous circular openings that reveal several floors of book stacks.
Kahn accordingly made the building's exterior relatively undramatic, suitable for a small New England town. Its facade is primarily brick with teak wood panels at most windows marking the location of a pair of wooden carrels. The corners of the building are chamfered (cut off), allowing the viewers to see the outer parts of the building's structure. A shadowed arcade circles the building on the ground floor.
A circular double staircase built from concrete and faced with travertine greets the visitor upon entry into the library. At the top of the stairs the visitor enters a dramatic central hall with enormous circular openings that reveal several floors of book stacks. At the top of the atrium, two massive concrete cross beams diffuse the light entering from the clerestory windows. Because the stacks are visible from the floor of the central hall, the layout of the library is clear to the visitor at a glance, which was one of the goals the Academy's building committee had set for Kahn.
The central room is 52 feet (15.8 m) high, as measured from the floor to the beginning of the roof structure, and 32 feet (9.8 m) wide. Those dimensions approximate a ratio known as the Golden Section, which was studied by the ancient Greeks and has been considered the ideal architectural ratio for centuries. The circle and the square that are combined so dramatically in the atrium were considered to be the perfect geometric units by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. He also noted that the human body is proportioned so that it can fit in both shapes, a concept that was famously expressed with a combined circle and square by Leonardo da Vinci in his drawing Vitruvian Man.
The placement of carrel spaces at the periphery was the product of thinking that began years earlier when Kahn submitted proposals for a new library at Washington University. There he dispensed with the traditional arrangement of completely separate library spaces for books and readers, usually with book stacks on the periphery of the library and reading rooms toward the center. Instead he felt that reading spaces should be near the books and also to natural light. For Kahn, the essence of a library was the act of taking a book from a shelf and walking a few steps to a window for a closer look: "A man with a book goes to the light. A library begins that way. He will not go fifty feet away to an electric light". Each carrel area is associated with two levels of book stacks, with the upper level structured as a mezzanine that overlooks the carrels. The book stacks also look out into the atrium.
The Esherick house was commissioned by Margaret Esherick, niece of famed Philadelphia sculptor Wharton Esherick (1887–1970). The house includes a one of a kind, custom kitchen by Wharton Esherick, Kahn and Wharton Esherick were close friends and had worked together in Kahn’s design of Esherick’s studio just outside Philadelphia.
Located in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, 90 minutes from Manhattan, the Esherick house received the honour of a Landmark Building Award from the American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia chapter in 1992.
Situated at a perfect angle on a property measuring more than half an acre, the house has a striking presence. The approach features a planar composition with a textured mortar finish bisected by a strong vertical chimney, while keyhole windows framed with Apitong and placed at irregular intervals punctuate the front facade. The floor plan reveals Kahn’s refined design of two symmetrical side-by-side rectangles that allow for both openness and structural clarity. Kahn’s use of pure geometry in the facades and interior spaces speaks to archetypal references that Kahn drew on throughout his body of work.
The cubic layout of the interior of the two-story house is accented by beautiful Apitong wood and crisp textured white walls. Light streams in the floor-to-ceiling windows, reflecting and refracting throughout the open plan. As the house was designed for a book lover, the living room incorporates nearly ceiling high built-in bookcases within an impressive double-height space saturated with the natural light. The dining room overlooks the large private backyard that shares an edge with a pastoral park, while the expansive bedroom and original walk-in closet mirror the craftsmanship and tranquillity of the house.
Above: Louis Kahn with his son Nathaniel Kahn (from his relationship with Harriet Patterson). In 2003 Nathaniel released the Oscar nominated 'My Architect' which tells the story of his five-year journey to understand his long-dead father. The movie travels from Penn Station to Bangladesh, Jerusalem and throughout the United States to learn about Kahn's work, his lovers, and his family.
- Dezeen Design Magizine, 'Esherick House by Louis Kahn', Dezeen, http://www.dezeen.com/2008/04/03/esherick-house-by-louis-kahn/
- Britannica, 'Louis Kahn', Encyclopaedia Britannica eb http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/309690/Louis-I-Kahn
- Patricia Loud, The art museums of Louis I. Kahn. New York: Duke University Press, 1989.
- Joseph Rykwert, Louis Kahn. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers,