Friday, September 2, 2011

Thomas Crane Library

Thank you Tom Williams for today's YEOW!

For this week’s Y.E.O.W, I’d like to feature the Thomas Crane Library located in Quincy, Massachusetts.  I have been an admirer of H. H. Richardson since I was first introduced to his work in an American Architectural History course in college.  I have visited this particular building on multiple occasions and been struck each time by the sensitivity of the architects of the later additions to the original historic structure.  It is an excellent example of the manipulation of space and volume, the play of light on the building’s interior, and the fine use of materials with all of the juxtaposed textures. 

The original H. H. Richardson-designed structure is typical of the “Richardsonian” Romanesque style demarcated by the asymmetry, rusticated stone, turrets, repeated window patterns, rounded arches, and eyebrow dormers.  If you squint really hard, and mash things down a bit to emphasize the horizontal, you start to see some Frank Lloyd Wright beginning to emerge (arriving on the scene about 30 years later).   

The best way to appreciate this building is by entering through the door below the low sweeping arch (seen in the image below).  Once inside, you enter into a dimly lit space (the times we have been there, the lights have been turned off) with lots of exposed woodwork; despite being a two-story space, it still maintains an intimate feel and character.  The book stacks are located at one end – arranged around the perimeter and on two levels; a fireplace at the other end adds to a rather cozy experience where you can just imagine hanging out on a rainy day.  The relatively new 2001 addition is truly amazing (see images below).

I cribbed the write-up below from the Internet, which provides the necessary credits and a little more history.

The original building designed by H. H. Richardson.

 Below image is a view of the 1908 addition designed by William Martin Aiken – showing great sensitivity to Richardson’s original building.
Thomas Crane Library by Paul Keleher 
Thomas Crane Library, a photo by Paul Keleher on Flickr.
Views of the original reading room with book stacks at one end, and fireplace at the other.
A nice shot showing the juxtaposition of the Aiken-designed addition on the left and the new 2001 addition on the right.

Enjoy! And have a great Labor day weekend.

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