earliest traditions


Paris produces two insights into the expression of ‘library’.  The first is Étienne-Louis Boullée’s design for the Bibliothèque Nationale of 1785.  It is conceived of as an amphitheatre of books.  Such monumentality is justified given the ever-increasing size of book collections.  Boullée saw a challenge: “S’il est un sujet qui doit plaire à un architecte, et en même temps échauffer son génie, c’est le projet d’une bibliothèque publique.  The second project is Henri Labrouste’s Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève of 1843-51.  Again, the monumentality is not lacking.  However, a separation has occurred between reader and book.  The stacks sit one floor below the reading room.













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Bibliothèque Nationale
Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève