Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light

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Henri Labrouste

Henri Labrouste (French, 1801-1875) had dramatic impact on 19th-century architecture through explorations of new paradigms of space, materials, and luminosity in unprecedented places of great public assembly. His two magisterial glass-and-iron reading rooms in two Parisian libraries, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1838-50) and the Bibliothèque nationale (1859-75), gave form to the idea of the modern library as a machine for knowledge and a space for contemplation. Labrouste also sought a redefinition of architecture by introducing new materials and new building technologies. His spaces are as overwhelming in the daring modernity of their exposed metal frameworks, thin masonry walls, new mechanical systems, and stunning luminosity as they are immersive and timeless.




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