Louis Kahn, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, once said, “A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasurable.” Perhaps this philosophy best describes the Tribune Review Publishing Company Building in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a building that is often overshadowed by Kahn’s more famous works.
The Tribune Review Publishing Building Technical Information
- Architects: Louis Kahn
- Location: 622 Cabin Hill Dr., Greensburg, Pennsylvania, USA
- Topics: Modernism, Concrete
- Area: 15,840 ft2 | 1,470 m2
- Project Year: 1958-1962
- Photographs: © Cemal Emden
A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasurable.
– Louis Kahn1
The Tribune Review Publishing Building Photographs
Architectural Harmony in Function and Form
Built between 1958 and 1962, the building is known primarily for being a newspaper office and printing plant for the Tribune-Review. The building may not be as iconic as Kahn’s other works, but it offers rich insights into his evolving architectural philosophy. The project came to Kahn via William Huff, a member of his staff related to the newspaper’s owner. Though not his typical project, the architect accepted the challenge to create a working space that harmonized form and function.
The Tribune Review Building is essentially a rectangular structure measuring approximately 132 x 120 feet. What makes it distinctive is its internal division. A central service strip, 20 feet wide, runs the length of the building, separating the printing and composing areas from the offices. This division serves a practical purpose: to shield the offices from the noise generated by heavy printing machinery.
Kahn chose concrete piers and beams instead of a steel skeleton, adhering to his commitment to using “massive materials” like concrete and masonry. This choice reflects Kahn’s architectural convictions, summed up in his own words: “The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.”
August Komendant, Kahn’s longtime collaborator, served as the consulting structural engineer. The building features pre-stressed concrete beams spanning 50 feet in width and supported by piers made of concrete blocks. This design allowed for an open interior space devoid of disruptive support columns.
The Interplay of Light and Form
One of the most fascinating features of the Tribune Review Building is its T-shaped windows. These unique fenestrations are aligned between each pair of adjacent concrete piers. Kahn called them “keyhole windows,” designed to allow maximum natural light while reducing glare at desk level. Kahn explained his design rationale: “I sense Light as the giver of all presences and material as spent Light. What is made by Light casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.”
The horizontal part of each “T” fits snugly into the gap formed by the roof-supporting beams, creating a linear, horizontal strip of glass that runs the length of the building. This design is a deliberate interplay of structure and light, with each element highlighting the other.
Kahn was meticulous about ensuring the visibility of structural elements within the building. The concrete piers and beams are not just functional elements but also aesthetic features that interact with light and shadow. This design approach is a reflection of Kahn’s belief that “architecture is the thoughtful making of space.”
Though relatively lesser known, the Tribune Review Building embodies a distinct expression of Louis Kahn’s architectural philosophy. Robert McCarter, author of Louis I. Kahn, regards this building as one of Kahn’s most resolved works concerning the relationship between structure and light. He notes that:
In the Tribune Review Building, which is rarely studied and almost never considered among his greatest works, Kahn achieved his most resolved expression to date of the relation between structure and light.
– Robert McCarter
The Tribune Review Publishing Company Building is a study in subtlety and thoughtful design. Though it may not enjoy the fame of some of Kahn’s other works, it stands as a testament to the architect’s endless quest for harmonizing material, structure, and light. In the words of Kahn himself, “Even a brick wants to be something.” And in the case of the Tribune Review Building, the “unmeasurable” certainly came to life, offering a nuanced understanding of Kahn’s mastery over architectural design.
The Tribune Review Publishing Building Plans
The Tribune Review Publishing Building Image Gallery
About Louis Kahn
Louis Kahn (1901–1974) was an American architect renowned for his monumental and iconic buildings that seamlessly blended modernism with classical forms. Born in Estonia but raised in Philadelphia, Kahn’s influential career saw the creation of masterpieces like the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the National Parliament House in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His distinctive use of natural light, raw materials like brick and concrete, and a profound understanding of geometric form made him a seminal figure in 20th-century architecture. Kahn’s work not only redefined architectural practice but also left an indelible mark on architectural theory, encapsulated in his belief that even basic construction elements aspire to “be something,” contributing to the overall integrity of a building.