University of Pennsylvania Library
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Cloaked in its brilliant mantle of red brick, fiery terracotta and red sandstone, the University of Pennsylvania Library stood, at its dedication on 7th February 1891, as the mature-period masterwork of Philadelphia's premier Victorian-era architect, Frank Furness. Conceived by Furness in consultation with two eminent library theoreticians, the library plans evolved from practical experience with the fundamental inadequacies of 19th-century institutional library buildings. The result was a modern factory for learning - a machine for the use and storage of books. Furness's highly rationalized plan, expressed on the exterior as bold, ecclesiastical design, was challenged for decades, and anti-Victorian sentiment threatened the edifice with demolition as late as the 1960s. Renewed appreciation has since come full circle, however, culminating in a dramatic interior restoration and rehabilitation by the eminent Philadelphia architect, Robert Venturi.