Louis Kahn Bath House

Ewing Township, Mercer County, New Jersey

Beginning in 2007, Mercer County and Ewing Township restored the Kahn Bath House, a landmark structure designed by architect Louis I. Kahn in 1955. As a final phase of the project in 2013-14, Hunter Research was commissioned to research, design and fabricate two interpretive signs to inform visitors about the Bath House’s world-renowned architect and the building’s history. Funding for the signs was provided by the New Jersey Historic Trust. Hunter Research worked with the clients and funder to review and approve each phase of sign development. Visitors to the Bath House include architectural history enthusiasts and members of the local community who use the swimming pool and nearby recreational facilities.

Cantilevered 2x3-foot signs with black metal frames were selected so as to minimally intrude on the building and its landscape. The first sign, which focused on the life and work of Louis I. Kahn, was located along the main sidewalk outside the Bath House, where it could be accessible to visitors at all times and seasons (busloads of architectural tourists sometimes arrive unannounced). The second sign, which focused more on the local history of the Bath House and its historic association with Trenton’s Jewish community, was located adjacent to a plaza within a fenced pool area to better attract the attention of bathers. Hunter Research was responsible for the development of all sign content, including text, historic images and graphics.

Sign panels were carefully designed to complement the Bath House, with graphic motifs, colors and fonts selected to be compatible with the muted tones of the concrete-block building. The unassuming building was considered by Kahn, and others, to profoundly influence all his later work. Kahn created an architectural style that blended modern materials with classical architecture, always with reference to landscape. The signs feature Kahn’s photographs and drawings, many from the archives of the University of Pennsylvania, where Kahn taught architecture.