Blowhard, Esq. writes:
This past weekend I made it over to the Morgan Library & Museum to check out complex and a few of the current exhibitions. When I turned off 37th onto Madison Avenue, I was struck by one of those architectural contrasts people are always going on about. On the left is a brownstone designed by Isaac Newton Philips in the Italianate style that was purchased by J.P. Morgan in 1904. On the right is the recent addition by Renzo Piano in the Boring Ugly Bullshit style that opened in 2006. Below is the wooden proof of concept model built by Piano’s studio. The addition encloses a former courtyard between the pre-existing buildings. It looks like a shed on stilts.
The actual Morgan Library is housed in a Palladian Classical Revival building designed by Charles McKim. Below are pictures of the rotunda, which Wikipedia notes was inspired by Raphael.
Off the rotunda is Morgan’s former study. The last picture in this series is of the vault he had specially designed to protect the most valuable books, manuscripts, and other pieces in his collection.
Opposite Morgan’s study, back through the rotunda, is his former library. The room is stunning. Notice there are no ladders going from one floor to the other. There’s a secret spiral staircase hidden behind one of the bookshelves.
You exit the library back into the Piano atrium, which looks like a chic, airy mall food court or an airport terminal. The colored glass is a temporary art installation.