Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve
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Architect Henri Labrouste
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Location Paris, France   map
Date 1843 designed, built 1845 to 1851   timeline
Building Type library
 Construction System bearing masonry and iron spans
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Italian Renaissance Revival
Notes Monumental long vaulted reading room. Iron arches and columns support roof independently of masonry walls.


Photo, interior, reading room

View from southwest

Photo, interior, reading room


Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

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Discussion Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve Commentary

"One of the greatest cultural buildings of the nineteenth century to use iron in a prominent, visible way was unquestionably the Bibliotheque Ste.-Genevieve in Paris, designed by Henri Labrouste and built in 1842-50. The large (278 by 69 feet) two-storied structure filling a wide, shallow site is deceptively simple in scheme: the lower floor is occupied by stacks to the left, rare-book storage and office space to the right, with a central vestibule and stairway leading to the reading room which fills the entire upper story. The ferrous structure of this reading room—a spine of slender, cast-iron Ionic columns dividing the space into twin aisles and supporting openwork iron arches that carry barrel vaults of plaster reinforced by iron mesh—has always been revered by Modernists for its introduction of high technology into a monumental building."

— Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p478.

Sources on Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve

Micheal Brawne. Libraries: Architecture and Equipment . New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970. LC 73-089609. Z679.B83. Interior photo of main space, f19, p18.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. grid geometry diagram, p194. — Updated edition available at

Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. London: The Butterworth Group, 1987. ISBN 0-408-01587-X. LC 86-31761. NA200.F63 1987. mentioned, p1190, p1191. — The classic text of architectural history. Expanded 1996 edition available at

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Robert Middleton and David Watkin. Neoclassical and 19th Century Architecture/2 . New York: Electa/Rizzoli, 1980. NA600.M513. ISBN 0-8478-0851-3. plan, p233. section, p233.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World . London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. interior photo, cutaway axonometric, p208. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. ISBN 0-13-044702-1. NA200.T7. discussion p478. — Available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve


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