comprises five cubes: four concrete pavilions each
topped by a floating, wooden pyramid with an oculus,
arranged in a cross at cardinal points around a fifth,
an atrium, but open to the sky. The walls are massive
and high; the lightweight, hipped roofs are supported
at their corners by the servant spaces.
Crucially, there is space between the walls and the roof
which allows light to enter while the vertical surfaces
act like a photographer’s reflector, softening and
diffusing it to avoid glare.
Although he did not use the term at the time, Trenton
was where Kahn and Tyng began to formulate the
concept of the ‘light joint’, developing it from the
use of ‘shadow joints’ created by recessing caulking
between wood and stone or stone and brick as a way
to underline and express the integrity of the materials.
Tyng describes how ‘the roofs appear to float above the
columns... The space between the roofs and columns is
a light joint in the vertical plane when the roof edge is
lined up with the walls.’
Above and right: Kahn called
the Phillips Exeter Academy
Library ‘a brick doughnut’.
Its concrete interior features a
shaft of natural light at its centre,
huge light-diffusing trusses and
circular voids that reveal the