Phillips Exeter Academy, Class of 1945 Library

The Class of 1945 Library occupies a central and cherished place on the Exeter campus. Designed by Louis Kahn, the library is widely honored as one America’s most significant 20th-century buildings.

ABA’s Library Master Plan set the strategy for the library’s preservation, renewal, and revitalization. The Commons — a student center for collaborative study and interaction — was the pilot project, testing prototypical furnishings, lighting, and finishes that are now library-wide standards. Color is introduced with carpeting and fabrics, with new millwork that takes cues from Kahn’s original details. The furniture and bookcases are reconfigurable for study, group readings, films, presentations, and parties.

Following the completion of the Commons, ABA completed new group study and academic support spaces to serve a changing pedagogy. ABA has also designed a new special collections and archives center. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are being replaced throughout the library. These changes provide Phillips Exeter with a collaborative academic and community center while honoring the library’s architectural heritage. Preserving an icon, the new design is fresh, welcoming, and a spirited companion to its remarkable setting.

Exeter, New Hampshire

Project Team: Thomas Hotaling AIA, Josh Lacasse AIA, David Spears AIA (ABA); Robert Silman Associates (Structural); Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering, P.C. (MEP / Tel-Data); brightspot strategy (Library Programing); Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture (Landscape); Jensen Hughes (Code); Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting (Lighting); Acentech (Acoustical); Shawmut Design and Construction (Construction Management); Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (Envelope Assessment); Wil-Spec (Specifications); Allegion (Hardware); Donnegan Systems (Collections Storage); Peter Vanderwarker (Photography)