Mark Lamster | Essays

Lou Kahn’s Trenton Bath Houses: The Best Buildings in New Jersey?

A few days ago I took a trip out to Lou Kahn's Bath Houses in Trenton, now under restoration. Like much of Kahn's work, the bath houses have a monumentality to them, though they are small in scale, really just four rooms set around an open court, with pyramidal roofs floating above. You can get the measure of them in about fifteen minutes, if that long. Are these (let's be honest) minor buildings the best works of architecture in all of New Jersey?

Silly question, sure, but it's the New Yorker's birthright to treat Jersey with condescension, so I got to discussing this with a friend and we couldn't come up with anything better. Yes, there's some great vernacular stuff, lovely Victoriana, a couple of Wrights, various infrastructural, industrial, and religious works of splendor, not a few exemplars of collegiate gothic and corporate modernism, etcetera — but as for capital-a architecture? If you can think of something better, let me know. A few more pictures of Trenton's Taj Mahal of concrete block:

Posted in: Architecture

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