History of Architecture

Historyof Architecture

Nameof Student

Introductionand Thesis Statement

Thispaper explores the architecture of Fisher Fine Arts Library. It islocated on the eastern side of College Green and at the University ofPennsylvania in Philadelphia. The other name popularly accorded tothe library is Furness Library. This essay will cover all thehistorical aspects of Fisher Fine Arts Library in depth. The designerof the library that is pretty historic which over time has beenconsidered a National Historic Landmark, the year of construction,the style and reason for the building of the library amongst others.

Thelibrary is considered such a great piece of work because allarchitectural works, landscape architecture, preservation of history,studio arts and regional planning are facilitated by the services atFisher Fine Arts Library and the numerous collections available.There are also services provided that are information based. Examplesof these services are, consultations in research, services inreferencing, and library instructions are available to all those whovisit the place. Western subjects are the ones mostly emphasized bythe collections inclusive of holdings on Islamic art, notes about theSouth and East Asia. That is the background information about FisherFine Arts Library (Roth&amp Clark, 2013).

Thearchitecture of Fisher Fine Arts Library

FrankFurness was the mastermind behind the first library building in theUniversity of Pennsylvania hence the name ‘Furness`. The design ofthe library building was done in consultation with Melvin Dewey andJustin Winsor, who were the library authorities then. Thetechnologically advanced facility that is also a utilitarian facilitywas the result of the collaboration of those great minds. The styleemployed could only be described as arcane.

Beforethe great library was built, the common style of architecture thathad been developed from the fifteenth century was the Venetian GothicArchitecture which by the nineteenth century had revived intoVictorian architecture. The only difference from the other buildingswere the materials used but the style is still the one that came tobe during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). These stylescontained interpretations and a mixture of historic styles that hadbeen revived mixed with influence the Asians from the Middle-Easthad. That is typically Fisher Fine Arts Library’s history inarchitectural style. (Pensver, 2002)

InOctober 1888, the cornerstone of the building was laid, and theformal dedication of the University of Pennsylvania Library conductedin 1991, the month of February. Frank Furness` elder brother known asHorace Howard Furness was responsible for choosing the mottoes thatwere inscribed on the windows of the library, Horace was an eminentmember of the faculty at Penn during the late years of the nineteenthcentury.

Thelibrary building, on construction, was destined to containcollections from decades in the 1880`s however it had already begunbeing crowded during the early ears of the twentieth century.Multiple and major alterations were made in the following thirty yearand expansions made to be able to provide accommodation for morecollections than was ever anticipated. The additions made includedHorace Howard Furness Memorial Library and the Henry Charles LeaLibrary. The main collections in the library that were consideredspecial were relocated to the Van Pelt Library that had just beenconstructed. (Mossand Crane, 2008)

Thelibrary was renamed after its very own architect and was a largecollection of architectural studios. Louis I. Kahn studio was alsoavailable at the great library building. In 1985, the Furness Librarybecame enlisted among Historic places in the national registry. Themajor work of restoring the building was directed by Venturi firm,Scott Brown, and Rauch Brown and it commenced in 1987 right through1990 as the ceremony of rededication took place on the 100thanniversary of the prototype function. Honoring the principal of theuniversity in 1992 and those who donated towards the great project,the library was renamed. The new name was Anne and Jerome Fisher FineArts Library.

Ironstacks were used in the building of the library for indefiniteexpansion for more collection accommodation. The plan of the libraryinnovative in an exceptional way. The main room for reading soarsfour-story bricks high and it is an enclosed space that is terracoated divided by a row of arches from the stories of the RotundaReading Room. Clerestory windows light up the whole place. There is alecture hall above the Rotunda Reading Room of two stories. The mainreading room illuminates all the other rooms surrounding it throughleaded glass windows.

Thefireproof stacks of the three stories are established in aself-contained wing made of iron, a roof made of glass and the floormade of glass blocks so that the lower levels may also be lit. At itsdesign, it was to hold 100,000 books and expandable continuously atthe same time. The intended expansion was one bay at ago since thewall in the south was movable. That kind of growth potential washighlighted in the perspective that was in the drawing by Furness asit indicated by the stacks of nine bays (Carbonell,2012). Thestacks of three bays that were there initially were never expanded.


Theintention behind the great library building was the idea ofconserving and collecting architectural works and forming ofarchitectural studios. It has in a big way been of great help to theUniversity of Pennsylvania since it has contributed greatly to thegreat name of the University of Pennsylvania since it is a declared alandmark in history that is known nationwide.

TheUniversity of Pennsylvania`s great library building supportsteaching, research, and studying in contemporary and historicaltopics. The aspects of history mainly found in the library`scollection include, art aspects, architecture, urban design andstudio art.(Carbonell, 2012)

Thereare collections of texts and images in both digital form and analogform from the prehistoric period till now. This was the initialintention of the designers of the library building, and it is stillserving its purpose to date. There are various changes however thathave been incorporated into the systems of the library and itscollections with time. Having been built in the nineteenth century,the development of technology and the changing social and naturalpatterns and concerns, the library needs to be updated. Mostoperations have been made digital although it still retains theoriginal glow as a National Landmark with books two centuries old.

Thelibrary has experienced a change in the important political characterwith the change in society. Before Fisher Fine Arts Library becamesuch an important landmark in Philadelphia, there were threats todemolish it by the government. (Clark, 2006) Looking at it now inrecent years after multiple renovations, the society is grateful thatit was never demolished. The library management of the libraryoperates on both academic and non-academic property in conjunctionwith the neighborhood which creates a destination that iseconomically vibrant, safe and diverse.

TheFurness Library is significant in two main areas. It is a fundamentalarchitect in Philadelphia and a work of art that survived decimationit is also important as building on its own merits. The library isamong the works of the great architect Frank Furness that havesurvived as public facilities since the nineteenth century (Roth&amp Clark, 2013).Other buildings designed by Furness, which were demolished includethe Broad Street station, the Library Company Building, the ArcadeBuilding among others.

Thebuilding has many merits, and that makes people want to visit it andhence a facility that is worth preserving. It has vigor in its designand the logic of its design dates back to the 1870`s. The formerquality of the library was regarded by historians to be of the mostsignificance, and that made it be regarded among the country`s mostsuccessful libraries. (Clark, 2006) The problem of circulating peopleis solved by the stair hall that shows a mastery of skill in itsdesign and the concept is being effected by Louis I. Kahn. Thelibrary building at the University of Pennsylvania is richly fusedwith steel, cast iron, brick, and structural glass. It is acomfortable place to study and conduct research as a source of richheritage with a diversity of collections which benefits not only theuniversity students but also other counterparts.


Theway in which the building was designed is a mark of the statementsthat are quite clear from the nineteenth century aboutdifferentiating form due to differences in functioning, whereas thereare specific needs assigned to the spaces. It is a start of modernfunctionalism that flows from the office of the great architect,Furness, to the descendants according to the works by pupil Sullivantogether with his own student F. L. Wright.(Alexander, 2012)

Furness`architectural ability will be carried through ages as his name liveson as the designer of the building that is considered rich in bothstructure and function. It is of help to almost all those whoappreciate its beauty and ambiance. Its function has been carriedthrough time for centuries without being altered although someaspects of it have changed.



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