Louis I. Kahn Bath House and Day Camp

Ewing Township, New Jersey

Award Type: Crowninshield Award

Louis Kahn’s Bath House and day camp were Modernist marvels when they were constructed for the Trenton Jewish Community Center in the mid-1950s. Thanks to the cooperation of groups in Princeton, New Jersey, the Bath House’s 38-acre site is now beautifully restored as a senior center and summer camp.

Designed by celebrated architect Louis I. Kahn for the Trenton Jewish Community Center in the mid-1950s, the Bath House and Day Camp are considered a turning point in Kahn’s illustrious career as well as an advancement in Modernist architecture. In 1984, the Bath House and Day Camp were listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register—prior to reaching the standard benchmark of 50 years of age—a testament to the building’s extreme significance.

By 1997, however, both the Bath House and Day Camp had suffered from continual exposure to the elements, and the owners of the buildings applied for a demolition permit for two of the Day Camp buildings. The threat of demolition attracted public attention—including exposure in the 2003 film “My Architect,” by Louis Kahn’s son Nathaniel Kahn—as well as the formation of the Friends of the Trenton Bath House. In 2008, the Bath House and Day Camp were sold to Mercer County, which utilized State and County funding to undertake a thorough restoration of the entire property. Today, visitors to the site can see the breathtaking results of their efforts. The Day Camp and Bath House have been returned to their original condition, and new landscape features, intended by Kahn but never completed, have now been woven into the surrounding area.