Louis I. Kahn. Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (Overall building complex [final version]). 1957–1965

Louis I. Kahn Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (Overall building complex [final version]) 1957–1965

  • Not on view

The design of the Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Building, as shown in this model, was a reaction against the prevalent idea in modern architecture that a single “envelope” of space should encompass all parts of a building. The distinction between what Kahn called “served” and “servant” spaces underlies the highly articulated massing and overall structure of the Richards Medical Research Building. The working quarters of the complex comprise three towers of vertically stacked, glass-enclosed laboratory spaces. These are organized around a central service tower that includes common spaces and utilities, such as elevators and stairs. A number of taller, brick-faced towers, distributed along the periphery of the laboratories and the service tower, function as monumentally scaled air-intake and vertical exhaust stacks.

Kahn explained that he conceived this design “in recognition of the realizations that science laboratories are studios and that the air to breathe should be away from the air to throw away.” By placing the servant spaces (stairs, elevators, and air-handling towers) on the periphery, Kahn was also able to provide the served spaces (the laboratories and offices) maximum flexibility by means of uninterrupted floor space. While Kahn developed a practical response to the needs of those who would use the building, he also engaged with its immediate context: the towers of this design echo the lively silhouettes of the University of Pennsylvania’s neighboring turn-of-the-century dormitories.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Basswood
Dimensions
13 1/2 x 22 3/4 x 14 3/4" (34.3 x 57.8 x 37.5 cm)
Model maker
Louis I. Kahn
Credit
Gift of the architect
Object number
MC 31
Copyright
© 2021 Estate of Louis I. Kahn
Department
Architecture and Design
Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].