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11.21.2005 

kahn in new hampshire


exeter library
phillips exeter academy
exeter, new hampshire
louis i kahn
1967

i have mentioned the greatness of the architect louis kahn here before, and i shall again. as part of my fantastic getaway to new hampshire this past weekend, i finally got to visit a building which i have been looking forward to seeing in person for a very long time.



"Elemental in its contemporary directness and built also with the sense and durability of the great monuments of history is the Library at Philips Exeter Academy. In the spirit of the grand, classical tradition of the focal organizing space, the reading room is a central hall encircled by balconies containing the stacks and study alcoves. It is a space diagonally overlooked through giant circular openings in the interior screen walls that define the central area. In keeping with the campus tradition, the exterior of the building is a repetition of brick piers, wider as they approach the ground where the book loads are greater, cut back at all four corners to subtly articulate the building's exterior square form. The perimeter study carrels are illuminated from windows above the reader's eye level; smaller windows at eye level afford views to the campus or conversely can be closed by a sliding wooden shutter for privacy and concentration. There is contact with and building upon origins in both the library and the [Kimbell] museum. They span time as an architecture of basic fact and of progression as we move onward, aware of both where we have come form and where we are."

— from Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. p279.



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