LATELY — 23 June 2002

Library Architecture

Tom Wolfe’s joke-title anti-modern architecture polemic, From Bauhaus to Our House, contains the following arresting image:

original of 1928, addition of 1953.
original of 1928, addition of 1953.

On the right, Yale University’s original neo-Gothic Art Gallery, built in 1928. On the left, Louis Kahn’s minimalist addition, built just 25 years later. (The suspiciously ornamental-looking horizontal lines are permitted because they “express” the structure within: in this case, the location of the floors inside.)

Compare: these three seams in the side of Hargrave-Andrew Library:


(L: Phase III; R: Phase II)


(L: Phase II; R: Phase I)


(L: Phase I; R: Phase IV)

All four phases together:

To my eye, Louis Kahn’s addition to the gallery had a certain gleeful fuck-it-all style. Do the additions to the Hargrave-Andrew have equivalent compensating merit? I don’t see it.