About the Bath House

Kahn, with the important help of an associate in his office, Anne Tyng, designed the Bath House so that its four rooms—the entrance (also referred to as the basket room), two changing rooms, and a porch—abut the sides of the central open-air atrium in the shape of a cross. The porch opens onto a staircase that leads ceremoniously to the raised pool.

The rooms are topped by pyramidal roofs that appear to float a few feet above the sidewalls, but in fact are secured to steel boots mounted on square pillars in the corners of each room. Sunlight enters from the sides through the gaps above the sidewalls and from above through a space cut at the apex of each roof.

The walls of the changing rooms that face the atrium end near the midpoints of the support columns, baffling the entrances. As bathers enter the changing rooms, they walk around the edges of the walls and pass out of sight of other patrons, gaining privacy without a need for doors.

The main entrance was decorated with a mural that combines angular and circular forms similar to the wave imagery found on the mosaic floor of an ancient Roman site, the Baths of Caracalla.

The Bath House was part of a larger vision Kahn had for the landscape of the entire campus. He wanted to organize buildings and outdoor spaces in relation to one another just as he had created strong spatial relationships between interior spaces that serve different roles.

The subtle combination of space, form, and light found here marked Kahn’s buildings for the rest of his career. Looking back on the project, Kahn saw in it “a generative force which is recognizable in every building which I have done since.”