Reading room
of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris
Built between 1843 and 1850, designed by Henri Labrouste
After a photograph by Antonio Sessa, 2020

The Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève was in its day, about 1850, a new creation in applied classic architecture;a building in which
the exterior design was entirely subservient to and expressiveof the requirements of a library, a large portion of the wallbeing left
unpierced for the storage of books, windows being only inserted where they did not interfere with this object; andthe manner in
which these walls are treated so as to produce a decorative architectural effect without having recourse to sham colonnades and
sham window openings, was entirely new at the time in modern work.It is instructive to compare this design with that of the Bank of
England, as examples of the right and the wrong way of treating buildings in which much blank wall space was required.


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