Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Introduction Esherick House is one of the first residential designs constructed by Kahn after his return to the United States from Rome, having been appointed there member of the American Academy in , illustrating his formal ideology. The project was commissioned by Margaret Esherick, single woman. Concept The house has a simple design with a central lobby featuring a staircase and a lounge area with a fireplace. The general shape of this two-story house is rectangular. However, the symmetrical articulation of the windows and entry readily reveal design concepts used earlier by Kahn in its architecture, institutional and public, where larger and smaller windows in the monumental facade create an impression in his overall composition.
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The house stands as one of the most important houses realized by Kahn throughout his luminous career, and is the first residence to illustrate his mature architectural ideals. The material nature of the house—what it is and how it is made—is apparent at first glance: a private, contemplative building simply constructed of warm beige concrete and natural Apitong wood.
Situated at a perfect angle on a property measuring more than half an acre, the house has a striking presence. The approach features a planar composition with a textured mortar finish bisected by a strong vertical chimney, while keyhole windows framed with Apitong and placed at irregular intervals punctuate the front facade.
Here, like in all his buildings, Kahn united this architectural history with the modern present in a truly unique structure. The cubic layout of the interior of the two-story house is accented by beautiful Apitong wood and crisp textured white walls. Light streams in the floor-to-ceiling windows, reflecting and refracting throughout the open plan.
As the house was designed for a book lover, the living room incorporates nearly ceiling high built-in bookcases within an impressive double-height space saturated with the natural light. The dining room overlooks the large private backyard that shares an edge with a pastoral park, while the expansive bedroom and original walk-in closet mirror the craftsmanship and tranquility found throughout the house.
As Kahn clearly intended, the character and style of this house belongs to no era; the house is truly timeless. The house features a complete, one of a kind, custom kitchen by Wharton Esherick, which is one of his last remaining intact interiors. Located in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, approximately 10 minutes from Center City downtown and 90 minutes from Manhattan, the Esherick house received the distinguished honor of a Landmark Building Award from the American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia chapter in The University of Pennsylvania now houses the Louis I.
Kahn collection and honors the architect with a titled visiting professorship—The Louis Kahn visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania. As a student I was always mesmerized by its playful graphic geometry of the windows and the deceptive simplicity of its plan.
There were two particularly ecstatic moments for me. Firstly was ascending the beautifully crafted, Japanese- or Shaker-esque, staircase with its simple timber balustrade, which overlooks the living room. The second was opening the shutter of the window in the library where knowledge and nature seemed to freeze into one image. With recognized expertise and exceptional style, they are the premiere auction house for modern and contemporary art and design.
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Building details[ edit ] The Esherick House is one of the most studied of the nine built houses designed by American architect Louis Kahn. Located at Sunrise Lane in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia , it was commissioned by Margaret Esherick in and completed in The primary building material is concrete block with stucco facing. Parker, but she did not purchase the house and the addition was never built.
Discussion Esherick House Commentary "Kahn built relatively few houses. In the Esherick House, the inherent monumentality of the plan is diminished by the fact that the major living spaces are surrounded by very thick walls. In the double-height living room, the fireplace wall is literally deep. The opposite wall in plan also has a fireplace used in the bathroom, but the wall is thicker containing a zone of servant spaces, kitchen, bathrooms, closets which are not part of the axial symmetry of the two major living spaces..