Architecture / Libraries

Romanian Academy, Iași Branch

The Iași Branch of the Romanian Academy is an institution of national importance, which has four objectives: academic, scientific, formative and communitarian, assuming research as a revaluation tool of national identity.

It contributes to the regulation of the Romanian language and the shaping of the Romanian cultural identity in the European context, through programs in Philology, History and Archaeology. Situated in Copou neighbourhood, at the intersection of “Carol I” Boulevard and General “Henri Mathias Berthelot” Street, near the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, the Romanian Academy building was constructed between 1981-1982. Designed by Nicolae Porumbescu, considered to be one of the greatest post-war Romanian architects, the edifice contributes to the enrichment of the architectural background of the cultural axis of Iași.

The Romanian Academy, founded on the 1st of April 1866 in Bucharest, has nowadays branches in Iași, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara. The current building of the Romanian Academy, Iași Branch was constructed from the “Menachem H. Elias” Family Foundation Funds. In 1914, Jacques M. Elias, the son of Menachem, willed the Romanian Academy as successor of his entire fortune, the foundation established on the 2nd of April 1925 having as objective the support and development of national culture institutions. The founding of the Iași Branch of the Romanian Academy (called in the communist period, the Academy of the Popular/Socialist Republic of Romania), took place on the 13th of August 1948. The activity began on the 24th of January 1949 in the building of the former Mihăileană Academy, where it functioned until 1963, the building being demolished. After that, the headquarters of the Iași branch moved in the building of the old university in Iași, which now hosts the University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The new building was designed by the architect Nicolae Porumbescu and constructed between 1975-1979. Before that, he designed numerous cultural and administrative edifices, among which are: the Theatre of Hunedoara, the State Circus in Bucharest, the Culture House of Suceava, the Culture House of Baia Mare, the political-administrative headquarters in Botoșani, Suceava, Satu Mare, the R Building of the Faculty of Constructions Iași or the Building of the Architecture Section in Iași. Initially named “The House of Science and Technique of Iași”, the building of the Romanian Academy represented a premiere on what concerns the functional and space organisation of this type of edifice, especially of the library. Specific to Porumbescu’s architecture is the use of the sacred geometry, reinterpreting the Romanian traditional motifs and their transposition on a monumental scale, such as the combining in a swallow tail, ears of wheat, but also the two halves of a circle found on the Kissing Gate in Târgu Jiu – the work of the great sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. The building’s façade, although made of the austere concrete, received some personality and texture through bush hammering (having models pressed through hitting). The Academy’s library impresses through the fact that it maintained its initial aspect, the books being arranged in wood bookcases with decorative elements specific to the ‘80s. The classical method of looking up books through alphabetically arranged charts placed in small drawers is still conserved here, along with collections of journals, tens of paintings of scientists, as well as some busts. Another dominant feature of the building is the use, in an important measure, of the zenith light which enters the library through the coffered ceiling through rectangular concrete elements.

Bulevardul Carol I nr.8, Iași 700506
Photo by Alex Munteanu

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