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Richards Medical Center
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Architect Louis I. Kahn
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Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania   map
Date 1957 to 1961   timeline
Building Type laboratories, offices
 Construction System precast concrete with trusses, brick
Climate temperate
Context urban campus
Style Modern
Notes University of Pennsylvania. separation of service and primary spaces.


Photo, exterior, office module

Photo, exterior, structural detail

Photo, exterior


Lower Plan Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Upper Plan Drawing

  Contributions appreciated

3D Model
3D Massing Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

3D Spatial Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

Model Viewing Instructions
Discussion Richards Medical Center Commentary

"The Medical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania is conceived in recognition of the realization that science laboratories are studios and that the air to breathe should be away from the air to throw away....My solution was to create three great stacks of studios and attach to them tall service towers which would include animal quarters, mains to carry water, gas and vacuum lines, as well as ducts to breathe in the air from 'nostrils' placed low in the building and exhaust it out through stacks high above the roof....This design, an outcome of the consideration of the unique use of its spaces and how they are served characterizes what it is for."

— Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p111,114.

"Several elements of Kahn's architecture came together in this building, elements that were used before, independently of each other: a clear articulation of servant and served spaces; the problem of light; the integration of spatial, structural, and utility elements; and, above all, the integration of form, material, and process. As a result, this building represents a significant turning point in contemporary architecture."

— Romaldo Giurgola and Jaimini Mehta. Louis I. Kahn. p195.

The Creator's Words

"Form is the realization of inseparable characteristics

Form has no existence in material, shape or dimension

To begin is the time of belief in Form

When the work is completed the beginning must be felt

A design is but a single spark out of Form
It is of material and has shape and dimension

The form 'symphony' does not belong to the composer
His design, his composition does."

— Louis I. Kahn. from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p392.

"A building is like a human, an architect has the opportunity of creating life. The way the knuckles and joints come together make each hand interesting and beautiful. In a building these details should not be put in a mitten and hidden. Space is architectural when the evidence of how it is made is seen and comprehended."

— Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p116.

Sources on Richards Medical Center

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. drawings and diagrams, p48-49. — New edition, available at Amazon.com

Donald Corner and Jenny Young. Slides from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1841.098. PCD.2260.1012.1841.098.

Romaldo Giurgola and Jaimini Mehta. Louis I. Kahn. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1976. ISBN 0-89158-502-8. LC 75-19210. NA737.K32G58 1975. p195.

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. p392.

Kevin Matthews. Slides from the photographer's collection.

Heinz Ronner with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella. Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1977. ISBN 0-89158-648-2. xNA737.K32R66. p111-117.

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 1. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. commentary, p426-7. exterior photo, f339, p428. plan drawings, f340, p428. — An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at Amazon.com

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.—



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