PHILLIPS EX­ETER ACAD­EMY LI­BRARY

Ar­chi­tect: Louis Kahn, 1965

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Travel -

Per­haps no space bet­ter ex­em­pli­fies Louis Kahn’s mas­ter­ful ex­ploita­tion of mass, scale and emo­tion than the Phillips Ex­eter Acad­emy Li­brary, said to be the largest high-school li­brary in the world. The mon­u­men­tal struc­ture hides in plain sight be­hind a red-brick cube, which blends anony­mously with the sur­round­ing Ge­or­gian cam­pus, and the con­trast be­tween the unas­sum­ing ex­te­rior and breath­tak­ing in­te­rior is in­dica­tive of Kahn’s abil­ity to de­liver a vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence. Take the stone stairs to the first floor and marvel at the 21-me­tre atrium, lit by up­per cleresto­ries and en­cir­cled by bal­conies fronting stacks and study al­coves. These are framed by gi­gan­tic con­crete walls cut with mas­sive cir­cles – Kahn called them “con­crete dough­nuts” – shield­ing the li­brary’s 250,000 books from day­light, and merge above in a float­ing X con­fig­u­ra­tion. The car­rel ar­eas are fas­ci­nat­ing, in some cases fea­tur­ing in­for­mal lounges and even fire­places. 21 Elm St, Ex­eter, New Hamp­shire, ex­eter.edu

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