(b. 1801, Paris, d. 1875, Fontainebleau)

Interior view

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris

Following the July Revolution of 1830, new ideas emerged among the younger generation of architects, ideas relating not just to choice of style, but also to a rational, function-oriented design and use of materials. One of the most important representatives of this approach was Henri Labrouste, a product of the École des Beaux-Arts who turned against the dogmatism of his alma mater. The ground plan of his Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève was developed from pragmatic considerations. The large, two-aisle reading room, visible in the interior as a cast-iron structure, occupies the upper story. The spare decoration of the façade in an Italian Renaissance style is subordinated to the effect of the cubic structural mass. Above the plinth-style ground floor, the apertures of the large pillared arcading are partly filled with inscription panels, corresponding to the bookshelves inside; they also help to articulate otherwise blank wall surfaces and illuminate the function of the building.

The photo shows the reading room on the upper story.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.