Segments in this Video

Early Public Library (02:05)


See the Sainte Genevieve Library. The library institution is based on a utopian myth. The French took books from Sainte Genevieve Abbey, which Revolutionaries had confiscated decades earlier. (Credits)

Labrouste (01:16)

At odds with the Academy of Architecture, Henri Labrouste could not get work until his commission for the Sainte Genevieve Library, in Paris' Latin Quarter.

Design of Library (02:39)

Labrouste created the first story for precious books, with dimly lit spaces, and the second as a reading room to accommodate the vast numbers of patrons.

Contrasting Styles (02:48)

With its unimposing exterior, the library differs greatly from Soufflot's neoclassical Pantheon. The interior is much grander and treated as a temple of knowledge.

Library Staircase (00:56)

Labrouste pushed the staircase to the rear of the library, independent of both floors to avoid encroaching. Dark and light regions symbolize the path to knowledge.

Basilica Plan (01:49)

Labrouste innovated the traditional Basilica Plan, putting buttresses inside the building to get a flat exterior façade and allow window space.

Iron and Stone (04:15)

Iron was considered utilitarian, but Labrouste went against convention to reveal rather than hide iron. The library combines stone and iron throughout.

Changes in Arrangement (00:50)

Originally, Labrouste arranged tables lengthwise and placed bookcases between columns; librarians objected to the latter. Rearrangement of tables came in 1930.

Arrangement of Books (03:04)

Labrouste sought to hide librarians' manual labor to preserve the library's nobility. Librarians rebelled against dangerous hidden staircases, forcing compromise.

Managing Details (01:50)

Labrouste designed decorative details for the reading room, and managed other details such as chair design. At first, women were not allowed at evening readings.

Encyclopedism on Façade (01:30)

The names of humanity's great thinkers are etched in chronological order on the façade.

Showing Off Function (01:51)

Contemporaries criticized the library façade, now seen as modern architecture. Tie beams pierce the façade without functional justification.

Legacy of Sainte Genevieve Library (00:32)

La Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve is a milestone in the history of architecture and libraries.

Credits: The Sainte Genevieve Library: Architectures- Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:27)

Credits: The Sainte Genevieve Library: Architectures- Achievements in Modern Architecture

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The Sainte Genevieve Library: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

Part of the Series : Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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Sainte-Geneviève library in Paris is now considered a milestone on the path of neoclassical architecture to modern architecture of the twentieth century. Learn how the architect, Henri Labrouste, designed the building to accommodate books and large numbers of people studying and reading, and to express his ideas about libraries, learning and architecture.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL65352

ISBN: 978-1-60057-663-8

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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