ARCHITECTURAL RECONSTRUCTIONS: A RESPECTABLE TRADITION

Calder Loth

Calder Loth

CLASSICAL COMMENTS
by Calder Loth

Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Member of the Institute of Classical Classical Architecture & Art‘s Advisory Council.

The reconstruction of destroyed historic and architectural landmarks has long been considered as something less than serious architectural expression. The loss of a significant work is usually taken to be an opportunity to rebuild with a structure reflecting a contemporary aesthetic and lifestyle. Many architectural pundits maintain that all new buildings should look to the future, not the past.  Nevertheless, a persistent popular sentiment holds that natural or man-made tragedy should not deprive us of important heritage, and that accurate rebuilding of noteworthy lost landmarks is a legitimate activity. Reconstructions serve emotional, patriotic, aesthetic, and educational needs. Moreover, the majority of reconstructions, both here and abroad, are serious, scholarly achievements. Time has shown that few people regret these resurrected landmarks. To illustrate this point, I have cited here fifteen conspicuous reconstructions, all of which are now symbolic public amenities. I could easily list several score more, but these are sufficient to make a case for their value. We should note that reconstruction projects have become a particularly noteworthy phenomenon in Germany. The Potsdam Stadtschloss, Hannover’s Schloss Herrenhausen, and the Braunsweiger Schloss in Brunswick are all recent reconstructions–each serving contemporary uses. Such projects have instilled pride and new life into their respective communities. The Berlin Royal Palace is currently under reconstruction and will accommodate museums and special events.

The criterion for including reconstructed works in this piece is the accurate recreation of the exterior of a totally or near totally lost building. Such projects may or may not include replication of original interiors. This definition precludes gutted buildings such as London’s Wren churches where exterior walls survived the Blitz largely intact. However, as with Dartmouth Hall discussed below, some reconstructions have incorporated modern structural systems and fireproof materials.

 

Dartmouth Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, Massachusetts; 1906 (illus. en.wikipedia.org)

The original Dartmouth Hall was built 1784-91 to accommodate the college’s post-Revolutionary growth. As with many of the era’s educational institutions the building was the college, housing dormitories, classrooms, a library, and a museum. Although initially proposed to be brick, the hall was timber frame sheathed in clapboards. Records show that the massive pine frame was raised in ten days in 1786. Israel Parsons served as joiner for interior work and finished the cupola “with proper ornaments agreeable to the rules of architecture.”[i] Through faulty wiring, the building caught fire on February 18, 1904, and was reduced to embers in two hours. The decision to replicate the building was made while the fire was still hot. However, the new hall would have a steel frame and white brick walls instead of wood. The sixth Earl of Dartmouth laid the cornerstone in 1904; the new building was occupied in 1906. Two salvaged original window frames were incorporated in the façade.

 

St. Mark’s Campanile, St. Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy; 1912 (illus. Loth)

A powerful focal point of one of the world’s most famous public spaces, St. Mark’s Campanile is only 102 years old. Construction of a watchtower on this site began in the 9th century with work continuing into the 11th century, eventually making use of the tower as a campanile.  Repairs to earthquake damage undertaken in 1511-14 resulted in the campanile receiving its definitive profile, designed by architect Giorgio Spavento. The gently tapering brick tower stood 310 feet tall with its bells high in a marble arcade, the whole crowned by a steep pyramidal roof topped off with a gilded statue of the Archangel Gabriel. Fire damage suffered in successive years caused cracks to appear in the sides, resulting in increasing structural weakness. Finally, at 9:45 AM, July 14, 1902, the entire edifice collapsed into a huge pile of bricks. The Venetian communal council wasted no time in determining to rebuild the campanile exactly as it was. The new campanile, a world-famous landmark, was officially completed on August 25, 1912—St. Mark’s Day. Few of the millions of visitors to Venice are aware that it is a replica.

 

Governor’s Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia; 1932 (illus. Loth)

The relocation of Virginia’s colonial capital from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699 required the construction of a suitable residence for the colony’s governor. The stately dwelling, subsequently known as the “Palace,” was begun in 1706 and completed in 1720 under the direction of master builder Henry Cary. It served the royal governors until 1775, and then became the residence of the new commonwealth’s first two governors: Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. The Palace was destroyed by fire in 1781 while being used as a military hospital. As part of the restoration of the colonial town, the Palace was reconstructed in 1930-32 by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Key aids to its appearance were the archaeological remains of the original foundations and a measured plan by Thomas Jefferson. Most importantly, its exterior appearance was revealed by the discovery in 1929 of an engraving plate in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, showing the Palace’s elevation, its dependencies, portions of the garden, and many other details. Now more than eighty years old, the reconstructed Palace has been an educational venue for millions of visitors.

 

McLean House, Appomattox Court House, Virginia; 1949 (illus. National Park Service)

The surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s 1848 residence effectively ended the Civil War. One of the ironies of history is that McLean purchased the remotely located property in 1863 because he wanted to distance himself and his family from Civil War hostilities. He had experienced action in 1861 at his prior home in northern Virginia during the First Battle of Bull Run [Manassas]. Speculators purchased the historic house in 1891 with the intention of dismantling and rebuilding it as a tourist attraction either in Chicago or Washington. The house was disassembled but funds for relocation and rebuilding did not materialize. The stacked parts were pilfered over the next fifty years. Fortunately, specifications and drawings for the rebuilding survived, and were an essential aid in its reconstruction by the National Park Service. Completed in 1949, the rebuilt country Greek Revival dwelling is a prime component of the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park.

 

Stoa of Attolos, Athens, Greece; 1956 (illus. Loth)

One of Athens’ principal Hellenistic civic works, the Stoa of Attolos was built ca. 140 B.C. as a gift to the city by King Attolos II of Pergamon. With its 377-foot façade, the imposing two-tier structure was a dominant element of the Athens Agora, the city’s central commercial and gathering area. Fronting its many shop stalls, the Stoa’s spacious colonnades were popular strolling and meeting places. The Stoa was destroyed by the Germanic Heruli tribe in 267 A.D. Its site underwent archaeological investigations beginning in 1862. More intense excavations and study were conducted by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens beginning in the 1930s. The school’s research produced sufficient evidence to justify a plausible reconstruction. With funds donated by the Rockefeller Foundation, the rebuilding of the Stoa was carried out in 1952-56. Criticism was directed against the project for being in contravention to the accepted code of restoration practice. Nevertheless, the building has served as an important demonstration of the appearance and function of an ancient stoa. It now houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora.

 

Abbey of Montecassino, Montecassino, Italy; 1956 (illus. internetculturali.it)

The Abbey of Montecassino was founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Nursia, who established the principle of Western monasticism with his Benedictine order. The complex was largely rebuilt beginning in the 11th century employing exceptional splendor. The Allied destruction of the abbey in World War II was not only tragic but was revealed to have been unnecessary. Belief that Germans troops were using the complex as a strategic observation post led to the order to obliterate it with the bombing raids of February 15, 1944. It was subsequently learned that Germans were not ensconced there, and that the numerous casualties were civilians seeking refuge. The monks immediately resolved to rebuild the abbey as it was. Three architects proposed replacing it with a modern-style complex but were rebuffed for ignoring the history of the site. With oversight and funding from a government commission, the abbey was carefully replicated in 1948-56, with architect Joseph Breccia Fratadocchi directing the work. Care was taken to incorporate fragments of original material into each column of the several cloisters. Though the project was said to be at odds with contemporary preservation theory, supporters held that the reconstruction symbolized the beginning of the rebuilding of war-torn Italy, and that the project looked backward in order to look forward.

 

Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle), Ypres, Belgium; 1967 (illus. Johan Bakker)

This prodigious Gothic pile was one of the largest medieval commercial buildings in Europe. Construction of the original structure began around 1200 and was completed by 1303, serving as a market and warehouse for the town’s thriving cloth industry. Ypres was caught in the crossfire of World War I during the German invasion of Belgium. The hall was damaged by German artillery on November 21, 1914 and was torched by incendiary devices the following day. Further damage was inflicted in 1915 through shelling by the German artillery piece “Big Bertha.” The remaining structure was reduced to rubble by 1918, leaving only a mutilated section of the bell tower. Following the war, the British declared that the remaining ruined piece should be left as a memorial. Local determination to recreate the beloved landmark led to a meticulous reconstruction begun in 1933 and lasting until 1967, a project directed by architects J. Coormans and P. A. Pauwels. Today, much of the stunningly vast hall houses the In Flanders Field Museum, an installation interpreting World War I.

 

St. Michael’s Cathedral, Sitka, Alaska; 1976 (illus. Historic American Buildings Survey)

The town of Sitka served as the capital of Russia-America from 1808 to 1867, and of the U.S. Territory of Alaska from 1867 to 1906. St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka, built 1841-48, became the spiritual center of the Alaskan Russian Orthodox Church. Like many traditional Russian buildings, the cathedral was constructed of logs covered with wood siding. Centered over its cruciform plan was an octagonal dome topped by an onion domed cupola. An elongated onion dome marked the bell tower. Fire swept through the town on January 2, 1966 and engulfed the cathedral. Many of the icons, the iconostases doors, and a chandelier were rescued before the church burned to the ground. Fortuitously, the Historic American Buildings Survey had measured the building in 1942 and produced six sheets of measured drawings in 1961. These records were used to reconstruct the church, a project begun in 1967 and completed in 1976 under the direction of architect Sergei Padukov of New Jersey. A steel frame structural system was employed in place of log. St. Michael’s was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962; the reconstructed building retains its National Landmark status.

 

Fortress Louisbourg, Louisbourg, Canada; 1982 (illus. Loth)

One of the most ambitious reconstruction projects ever undertaken in North America has been the rebuilding of one fourth of Fortress Louisbourg and the town it enclosed. Located in a remote northern corner of Nova Scotia, Louisbourg began as a French settlement in 1713 and grew to a strongly defended fortress town from 1720 to 1740. Its positon on the Atlantic coast served to guard both the entrance to the St. Lawrence River and French fishing interests. In 1760, following the British capture of Louisbourg in 1758, Prime Minster William Pitt ordered the removal of all its occupants and the complete demolition of the town and its fortifications.  Two centuries later, in recognition of its French cultural heritage, the Canadian government undertook reconstruction of the site as a Centennial Project. With the aid of extensive archaeological investigation and massive documentation, the rebuilding began in 1963 and extended over the next twenty years. Original architectural drawings for many of the houses and other structures survived in French archives. Louisbourg today consists of some eighty buildings along with three quarters of a mile of fortifications exhibited by Parks Canada. Shown is the King’s Bastion Barracks.

 

Greenwood Plantation House, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; 1984 (Illus. pinterest.com)

Few dwellings were more evocative of the prosperity of the antebellum rural South than Greenwood Plantation’s mansion house. Built in 1830-35 by William Ruffin Barrow, the stately dwelling was set off by its peripteral colonnade of twenty-eight Doric columns. Barrow’s plantation consisted of 12,000 acres worked by 750 slaves. Fearing the loss of his fortune with the impending Civil War, Barrow sold Greenwood to the Reed family. Union troops looted the property and destroyed nearly all of the plantation’s some 100 ancillary structures. They spared the house by using it for a hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Percy purchased the neglected property in 1915 and restored the house, opening it to the public in 1940. On August 1, 1960, fire from a lightning strike completely destroyed all but the columns. The fact that the house was stucco over wood frame made it vulnerable; the columns, however, were stuccoed brick. Walton Barnes purchased Greenwood with 300 acres in 1968. Following several years of research, he and his son Richard undertook a careful reconstruction using numerous photographs and descriptions, completing the project in 1984. Greenwood is now open to the public and serves as a B&B.  The house has been a location for several motion pictures.

 

Yellow Crane Tower, Wuhan, China; 1985 (illus. Loth)

A staggering work of traditional Chinese architecture, the current Yellow Crane Tower stands atop Snake Hill, overlooking the Yangtze River and the sprawling city of Wuhan. The original tower, built on the river’s edge in 223 A.D., was associated with various legends involving Chinese “Immortals” being carried on a yellow crane. The tower was destroyed and rebuilt some seven times. The next-to-last iteration, built in 1868 in the Qing Dynasty, was destroyed by fire in 1884. Recognizing its importance to Chinese culture and as a sacred venue for followers of Taoism, it was decided to reconstruct the tower once again, but on a new site with greater visual prominence, one kilometer from the original location. The new tower, built 1981-85, generally replicates its Qing Dynasty appearance but is constructed in modern materials. However, 100,000 yellow glazed tiles were used to roof the multiple curved gables. One room on an upper level is reserved for visiting poets.

 

Iberian Gate, Moscow, Russia; 1996 (illus. Loth)

Dating from 1538, the Iberian Gate and Chapel marked the northern entrance to Red Square. The name Iberian derives from the Russian Iversky, which in turn connotes the Georgian Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece where is housed a miracle-working icon. In 1669, a replica of the icon was placed in the small chapel between the gate’s arches. Here all visitors to Moscow, including the Czar, would pray upon entering the city. Twin pyramidal towers were added to the gate in the 1680s. The chapel was demolished in 1929 and the gate removed two years later to provide access to Red Square for the large military pieces shown off during Soviet celebrations. In 1994, following the establishment of the Russian Federation, the Moscow city government authorized the reconstruction of the gate and chapel, an undertaking sanctioned by the Russian Orthodox Church. Oleg Zhurin served as architect for the project as well as for the reconstruction of the nearby Kazan Cathedral in Red Square.

 

 

Nauvoo Temple, Nauvoo, Illinois; 2002 (illus. LDSVenus-knits)

Standing high on a prominence overlooking the Mississippi River, the reconstructed Nauvoo Temple, with its fanciful clock tower, dominates the small town of Nauvoo. Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, settled in Nauvoo in 1839 to escape their persecution in Missouri. Their original stone temple, designed by Mormon architect William Weeks, was begun in 1841 and competed by 1846. The Mormons soon were forced out of Nauvoo and the temple was burned by an arsonist in 1848. The remaining walls were damaged by a tornado in 1850, and what was left of the ruin was demolished in 1865. The Mormon Church reacquired the site in 1937. Using historic photographs, drawings, written descriptions, and archaeological evidence, construction of an accurate replica of the temple began in 2000. The new temple, built of reinforced concrete veneered with the same type of limestone as the original, was dedicated in 2002. It serves as an active temple, used exclusively for Mormon rituals.

 

Kommandantenhaus, Berlin, Germany; 2003 (illus. Beek 100)

The reconstructed Kommandantenhaus has the prestigious address of No. 1, Unter den Linden. A house was built on the site in 1653 and expanded as a private palace in the 18th century. It became the seat of the commander of the Berlin Garrison in 1799. The palace was greatly enlarged and remodeled in 1873, acquiring a third story and a neo-Renaissance façade. The building was heavily damaged in World War II and its remains were demolished in the 1950s for the construction of the modernist East German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry building was pulled down in 1995 and the site was acquired by Bertelsmann AG, a mass media corporation, and the Bertelsmann Foundation for the location of its Berlin offices. The Berlin Senate required replication of the façade for the new structure although the interior could be wholly modern. Architect Thomas van den Valentyn directed the reconstruction using historic photographs and archaeology; no drawings survived. Critics panned the project as “Disneyfacation,” but the building serves as a key element in the most historic quarter of the city, complementing the several surviving historic structures in the immediate vicinity.

 

Frauenkirche, Dresden, Germany; 2005 (illus. Ranier Lippert)

The bombing of Dresden ranks among the most controversial of Allied actions in World War II. Justification for the utter destruction of one of Europe’s most culturally important cities is still debated. A major architectural casualty of the carpet bombings and resulting firestorm of February 13 and 15, 1945 was the Frauenkirche, the majestic Lutheran church in the heart of the city. Designed by Georg Bähr and built in 1726-43, the voluptuous domed edifice, towering 314 feet, was celebrated as a Baroque masterpiece. The raids reduced the church to a pile of stones, leaving intact only a single much-mutilated bay. Despite early sentiment for rebuilding the Frauenkirche, the East German Government declared its reconstruction a low priority and kept the rubble as a war memorial, concentrating its efforts instead on reconstructing the Zwinger Palace. Following German reunification, a citizens’ action group formed to pressure for rebuilding the church. Sanctioned by the Dresden city government, the reconstruction, directed by architect Eberhard Burger, began in 1993 and was completed in 2005. Some 3800 original stones were used in the rebuilding. These stones were left with their fire-stained surfaces as witnesses to the church’s destruction and resurrection.

I hope the several examples illustrated and discussed here demonstrate that reconstruction of lost historic buildings is a legitimate and serious activity, one that provides significant public benefit. Nevertheless, such reconstructions should not be undertaken without sufficient documentation and adequate budget to ensure authenticity. The circumstances justifying reconstructions are rare. We should never fear that we will be dominated by a resurrected past. Nevertheless, I trust we can appreciate these scattered but remarkable achievements. What would St. Mark’s Square be without its campanile, and how can we not be awed by the Frauenkirche?  Would that we could have a resurrected Penn Station! Finally, I invite readers of this blog to share their favorite reconstructions.


[i] Frederick Chase, A History of Dartmouth College (Cambridge University Press, 1891) p. 578.

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TWO CENTURIES OF ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING

Calder Loth

Calder Loth

CLASSICAL COMMENTS
by Calder Loth

Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Member of the Institute of Classical Classical Architecture & Art‘s Advisory Council.

In 1992, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opened an exhibition of architectural drawings titled The Making of Virginia Architecture. The exhibition displayed 118 drawings by Virginia architects as well as non-Virginians such as Thomas U. Walter and Frank Lloyd Wright, who had designed Virginia buildings. Serving as curators were Charles Brownell, William Rasmussen, Richard Guy Wilson, and myself. For this Classicist Blog essay I am sharing a dozen selected drawings from the exhibition spanning some 200 years and displaying a range of drawing techniques from simple sketches to elaborate watercolor presentation drawings. While we exhibited five drawings by Thomas Jefferson, I have not included any Jefferson drawings here since they are well known and have been published numerous times. One of the exhibition’s special treasures, shown below, was George Washington’s own drawing for the expansion of Mount Vernon.

The ICAA strives to keep alive the tradition of architectural drawing. In the age of CAD and computer imaging, hand drawing and rendering risk becoming a lost art. It is hoped that the various images shown below will inspire an appreciation of the role hand drawing has played in the creation of noteworthy works of architecture.

 

Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia
George Washington, architect

Elevation drawing of west front, 1774 or later
Pen and writing ink on paper; 6 3/8 X 8 inches
Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, Mount Vernon, Virginia

 

George Washington’s simple drawing of Mount Vernon’s west elevation is testament to the fact that, like Jefferson, the farmer, soldier, statesman, and first U.S. President, was also an amateur architect. The drawing illustrates how the house was to be configured following Washington’s extensive alterations and additions made between 1774 and 1787. The expansion included additions on either end with their own separate entrances, all covered by a broad hipped roof crowned by an octagonal cupola. The elevation reveals that Washington intended a symmetrical arrangement of the bays, but the irregularity of the original dwelling’s openings prevented him from achieving it. Regrettably, we have no drawing by Washington of the opposite side with its celebrated ‘piazza,’ Washington’s unique innovation.

 

Newmarket, Caroline County, Virginia (unbuilt)
Architect unknown

Presentation drawing, late 18th century
Pen and India ink, and watercolor on paper with later watercolor insertions; 11¾ X 18 inches
Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia

 

John Baylor, a member of Virginia’s plantation aristocracy, planned a replacement of his family house with what would have been one of the grandest mansions ever erected in the state. Baylor apparently acquired a taste for monumental architecture while being educated in England and likely acquired this drawing from an architect while there. Although not a particularly polished scheme or delineation by English standards, it nonetheless would have outshone most anything built in America at that time. The drawing reflects the refined neoclassicism of Robert Adam, even incorporating niches with classical statues on either side of the front door and colonnades connecting to dependencies. Baylor affixed this drawing to his copy of The Architecture of M. Vitruvius Polio (London, 1771) where it now remains. Construction of the house never progressed beyond some foundation work. Someone at a later date attempted to ‘enhance’ the drawing by adding the garish trees.

 

Study for a Monument and Church, Richmond, Virginia (unbuilt)
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect

Elevation and plan details, 1812
Pencil, pen and India ink, and watercolor on paper; 18½ X 13¾ inches
Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland

 

Richmond’s catastrophic theater fire of 1811, in which seventy-two leading citizens including the governor perished, led the city to plan a permanent monument with an attached church for the disaster site. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who had already provided numerous designs for the city, produced this finely delineated proposal, a composition unlike anything seen before in America. It called for a domed neoclassical church fronted by the monument over a crypt containing the remains of those who died in the fire. The monument itself consisted of a low-profile Egyptian-style structure with battered sides and topped by a stepped pyramid. The scheme proved too costly, and despite Latrobe’s efforts to simplify, it was passed over in favor of an equally avant garde design by Robert Mills, Latrobe’s pupil. Mills’s submission, known today as Monumental Church, was built absent a proposed rear tower and is regarded as one of the country’s premier early architectural landmarks.

 

Bremo, Fluvanna County, Virginia
John Neilson, architect

Presentation drawing, ca. 1817
Ink and watercolor wash on ruled paper; 14 X 20 inches
Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

 

Thomas Jefferson assembled numerous skilled builders for the construction of both Monticello and the University of Virginia. One of them, John Neilson, a native of Northern Ireland, proved to be an accomplished architect as well as draftsman. Neilson executed for Jefferson a number of watercolor drawings of university buildings. These drawings were long attributed to Jefferson’s granddaughter, Cornelia Randolph, but research by Richard Cote has firmly assigned them to John Neilson.[1] In 1816, Jefferson’s friend, Gen. John Hartwell Cocke, engaged Neilson to assist with the design of his new plantation mansion, Bremo. As shown in Neilson’s elevation (now also properly attributed), the design is a cohesive essay in Jeffersonian Palladianism, a distinctly American architectural idiom learned by Neilson through his involvement with Jefferson’s projects. The house was originally built with a flat roof and parapets, but constant leaking forced Cocke to cover it over with the present hipped roof in 1836.

 

Alexandria Courthouse, Alexandria, Virginia
Robert Mills, architect

Presentation drawing, 1838
Pencil, pen and India ink with watercolor on paper; 15 X 20¼ inches.
Signed and dated: Robt. Mills/Archt. Pub. Bldgs/City. Washington July 17, 1838.
National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Branch, Alexandria, Virginia

 

Robert Mills arrived in Washington from his native Charleston in 1800 as a nineteen-year old to assist James Hoban with the completion of the White House, for which Hoban was the supervising architect. Several months later, Mills came under the tutelage of Thomas Jefferson and enjoyed access to the numerous architectural books that Jefferson brought to Washington and kept at the White House. Mills produced ink and watercolor renderings for Jefferson, and refined his rendering skills when he joined Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s office in 1803. The influence of Latrobe’s lean classicism and rendering techniques can be seen in Mills’s luminous presentation drawing for the Alexandria courthouse. Mills would use the simplified Greek Doric order seen in the courthouse drawing in a number of his works. The courthouse was demolished in 1905.

 

Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia
Edmund G. Lind (Lind & Murdoch), Baltimore, architect

Presentation drawing, 1861
Pencil, pen, India India ink, brown ink, and watercolor on paper; 22¾ X 36¾ inches
Inscribed lower left: LIND & MURDOCH ARCHs; lower center: MURDOCH & RICHARDS. DELs, 1861.
Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation, Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia

 

This astonishing image was prepared to show the proposed remodeling of an existing country house. The house incorporated an 18th-century dwelling enlarged in the 1830s with the construction of the porticoed center section and flanking two-story wings. In 1859, its new owner, Thomas Swann, the former president of the B&O Railroad and governor of Maryland, hired Baltimore architect, Edmund G. Lind, to remodel the house in the newly popular Italianate manner. Lind complied by adding the bracketed window hoods and four tall Italian Villa-style towers, a treatment made fashionable by Queen Victoria’s Osborne House. The towers were built, but, alas, were removed in the 1890s by Swann’s daughter. Regrettably, no photograph has surfaced showing the house with its towers. The rendering, executed by Lind’s associates, William T. Murdoch and William T. Richards, remains the sole record of this amazing composition and is a rare example of a polished presentation drawing of the antebellum period.

 

Handley Library, Winchester, Virginia
James Stewart Barney (Barney & Chapman), New York, architect

Presentation drawing, ca.1904
Signed lower left: E. Eldon Deane
Watercolor and ink on paper; 23½ X 29½ inches
Handley Library, Winchester, Virginia

 

This splendid Beaux-Art work is the result of a bequest to the city of Winchester by Judge John Handley of Scranton, PA, who made a fortune in coal investments and developed an affection for the small Shenandoah Valley community and its Scotch-Irish heritage.  The handsomely rendered presentation drawing by E. Eldon Deane helped Barney’s firm secure the commission. The library was completed in 1913 largely as illustrated. Triangular in plan, the library is fronted by a heroic, triple-arch entrance that recalls both the New York Public Library and Palladio’s Loggia del Capitaniato. With its smartly dressed visitors and fine carriage, the drawing signals the impression that this grandiose work would fit comfortably in any European capital. It also is a demonstration of the exceptional quality of architectural rendering of the period.

 

Waverley Hill, Staunton Virginia
William Lawrence Bottomley, (Bottomley, Wagner & White), New York, architect

Presentation drawing, 1928
Mechanical print of charcoal drawing on paper with colored pencil added; 11 X 24 inches.
Private Collection

 

The fashionable New York architect, William Lawrence Bottomley, developed a large following in Virginia, receiving some forty commissions in the commonwealth between 1915 and 1956 for new works or for alterations and additions. Bottomley specialized in interpretations of Virginia’s colonial architecture, declaring “this old southern ideal of country house architecture [is] one of the finest things we have and it is still vital.”[2] Although on a hilltop site with splendid views of the Shenandoah Valley countryside and Blue Ridge Mountains, Waverley Hill took the form of a James River plantation house extended to a five-part composition. Ever the eclectic, Bottomley introduced a Maryland touch with the front doorway, based on the entrance of the Hammond-Harwood house in Annapolis. The rendering presents the house well settled in with mature landscaping. The house was built as shown.

 

Carillion Tower (Virginia War Memorial), Richmond, Virginia
Ralph Adams Cram (Cram & Ferguson, Boston), architect; Carneal, Johnston & Wright, Richmond, associate architects

Working drawing elevations, 1931
Pencil on tracing paper, 41½ X 30 inches
Collection of Ballou, Justice & Upton Architects, Richmond, Virginia

 

The architectural landmark of Richmond’s Byrd Park, the Carillion was dedicated in 1935 as a memorial to the Virginians who served in World War I. A competition for the design was held in 1925 with Paul Cret’s submission for a granite arcade judged the winning entry. Ground-breaking for the Cret scheme took place but construction was halted three months later in order to consider options for a carillon, which public sentiment determined to be a more suitable monument. The resulting substitute design by Ralph Adams Cram called for a 200-foot-tall Georgian-style brick campanile with limestone detailing. As stated at the time, the style was chosen because “The Commonwealth of Virginia is the great southern exponent of that noble Colonial architecture.”[3] Built as designed, the Carillion houses fifty-three bells cast by John Taylor & Co. of England.

 

National Airport, Arlington, Virginia
Howard L. Cheney, Washington, D.C., architect

Preliminary presentation drawing by Hugh Ferris, ca. 1939
Charcoal on tracing paper, 11¼ X 17½ inches
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York City

 

This drawing by the visionary artist, Hugh Ferris, captures the new-found drama of commercial air flight. The activity, noise, and wonder of a modern airport are all felt. Though trained as an architect, Hugh Ferris achieved fame as an architectural renderer. His bold futuristic depictions of skyscrapers influenced the designs of many of these works. National Airport (now Reagan National Airport) was established largely through the urging of President Franklin Roosevelt who recognized the need for the capital city to have adequate air service. The original concept for the terminal was for a streamlined appearance. Roosevelt, however, preferred a more traditional image, and suggested that the façades should reflect Mount Vernon, not far away. Hence, the terminal was decked out with a range of square piers on the west elevation and cylindrical columns on the runway side. Ferris’s drawing was a preliminary study for a now lost finished rendering. Howard L Cheney served in the Office of the Supervising Architect in the Public Building Administration.

 

Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia
Eero Saarinen, architect

Preliminary sketch, 1958
Pencil on tracing paper; 18 X 34½ inches
Museum of Modern Art, New York City, Gift of Aline Saarinen

 

The thrust and soaring qualities of modern jet flight are brilliantly captured in Saarinen’s nimbly dashed pencil sketch showing his preliminary concept for what would be the nation’s first all-jet airport. The sketch shows the forward leaning piers that would be incorporated into the final design, but not the suspended curved roof that defines the terminal today. Saarinen later described the finished roof, saying it “resembles a huge continuous hammock suspended between concrete trees.”[4] With its progression of tall piers, Saarinen intended to make the terminal a monumental modernist entrance to the nation’s capital city. Moreover, the terminal was to be devoid of the ‘fingers,’ that snaked from the central check-in area, using instead the concept of the ‘mobile lounge’ that transported passengers directly from the terminal to their airplanes. More than fifty years later, the Dulles terminal still projects the dynamism displayed in this early sketch.

 

Observatory Hill Dining Hall Additions, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York, architect; Marcellus Wright, Cox and Smith, Richmond, associate architects

Presentation drawing by Andrew Zega, 1989
Watercolor on Paper; 19½ X 34 inches. Signed and dated: Andrew Zega, 1989
Collection of Robert A. M. Stern Architects, New York City

 

Robert A. M. Stern’s 1984 twin additions were made to a 1974 dining hall, a vacuous modernist structure spanned by large shed roof. The airy design was part of the university architecture school’s Dean Jaquelin Robertson’s effort to have new buildings reflect the university’s Jeffersonian heritage. Stern complied by breaking the composition into pavilion-like sections  framed by paired Tuscan columns and incorporating Chinese lattice panels, all supported on a brick arcade. The different units were visually integrated by a Tuscan entablature. The composition shown in this drawing was applied to both the north and south elevations of the existing dining hall. The watercolor rendering was produced by Stern draftsman Andrew Zega five years after the work was completed to record the project. Unfortunately, the need for a larger dining facility resulted in the demolition of the entire complex in 2004.


[1] Charles Richard Cote, The Architectural Workmen of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. Doctoral dissertation (Boston University, 1986).
[2]
Quoted in The Making of Virginia Architecture (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, 1992) p. 370
[3]
  Ibid., p. 380.
[4]
Eero Saarinen quoted in “Dulles International Airport.” Architectural Record (July 1963).

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National Curriculum Conference 2014

Over the weekend of July 17-20, thirty-three participants representing ten ICAA Chapters and five affiliated schools gathered at the College of Architecture & Planning at the University of Colorado Denver for the third National Curriculum Conference. The College of Architecture & Planning at UCD and the ICAA Rocky Mountain Chapter co-hosted this year’s conference.

2014 National Curriculum Conference. Photo credit: Tom Matthews

The National Curriculum Conference serves as a forum to facilitate dialogue and to share knowledge among ICAA instructors, chapter leaders, and educators at schools and partnering institutions.  The conference is vital to the development of ICAA education on a national scale.

A reception at the historic Hudson Moore Estate, hosted by Don Ruggles, President of the ICAA Rocky Mountain Chapter, commenced conference activities.  Guests were invited to tour the circa 1931 residence, designed by local architects Fisher & Fisher, and recently remodeled and restored by D. H. Ruggles & Associates, P.C.

Mark Ferguson, Chair, ICAA Board of Directors gives opening remarks.

Welcoming remarks from Dean Mark Gelernter, College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, and Don Ruggles, President of ICAA Rocky Mountain Chapter

The work of the conference began Friday morning with presentations outlining the work of  ICAA Education and programs in classical design in the following ICAA Chapters and schools:

ICAA Chapters:
Chicago-Midwest Chapter; Charleston Chapter; Washington Mid Atlantic Chapter; Florida Chapter; Utah Chapter; New England Chapter; Rocky Mountain Chapter; Southern California Chapter; Southeast Chapter

Affiliated Schools:
University of Notre Dame; American College of the Building Arts; Boston Architectural College; Judson University; University of Colorado Denver

Elizabeth McNicholas presents on educational programming in the Chicago-Midwest Chapter.

 

Patrick Webb speaks about the curriculum at the American College of Building Arts in Charleston, S.C.

Christine Franck presents on the proposed initiative Center for Advanced Research in Traditional Architecture.

Christopher Miller from Judson University speaks about classical design education at the university level.

Friday afternoon’s schedule featured presentations on progress in development of coursework in two newly added core subject areas: Composition & Design and Materials & Methods.  ICAA instructors and professors from affiliated schools presented on essential topics, skills, and resources and how these subject areas may be introduced in education programs.

The second day of the conference focused on refinement and development of ICAAs courses in core curriculum areas of Elements, Proportion, Drawing/Delineation, and Literature of Classical Architecture; and on best practices for teaching core content.

Cameron Kruger, Domiane Forte, and Sheldon Kostelecky discuss teaching methods for Drawing & Delineation.

Presentations and discussion at the 2014 NCC.

Joel Pidel and Marvin Clawson make a virtual appearance for their presentation on the Literature & Theory of Classical Architecture. Photo Credit: Tom Matthews

Closing discussions were framed around ways to: capitalize on strengths of the core curriculum; advance coursework in areas needing further development; and on ways to expand our network of instructors.  Conference action items will serve as the basis for continued work in the coming year.

As part of the conference, ICAA Rocky Mountain Education Chair, Tom Matthews, treated participants to a walking tour highlighting classical buildings in Downtown Denver.  The tour featured special access to Denver’s landmark Campanile inspired, Daniels & Fisher Tower, where the owner of Clocktower Events, welcomed participants to visit the observation balcony and clock level to enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Participants on a Walking Tour of Downtown Denver

Cameron Kruger takes participants on a tour of the College of Architecture & Planning building. Photo credit: Tom Matthews

The clock at the top of Daniels & Fisher Tower in downtown Denver.

ICAA National staff shared a letter from Alvin Holm, long-time classical design educator and friend of the ICAA, who was unable to attend the conference.  He had this to say about the significance of the NCC:

“I am personally thrilled to see how far the movement has come from the humble beginnings under Henry Reed’s sponsorship with Classical America in the ‘sixties. I like to think that my early work at the National Academy in New York is in part a little murmur of what has now become something of a mighty chorus across the country.

Henry would be thrilled! His remarks, however, would be characteristically understated, perhaps something like “rather good, actually”. When we celebrate his legacy in Philadelphia this Fall in a small gathering at the Franklin Inn, I will certainly point to this conference as an example of the giant steps we are making toward The New American Renaissance of which he dreamed and did so much to achieve.”

Group shot on the steps of the Byron White U.S. Courthouse.

We thank the 2014 NCC participants for their time, expertise and commitment to classical design education, and look forward to continuing the work of the conference in the coming year.

Our deepest thanks are due to all who made this year’s conference possible, including: the ICAA National Curriculum Committee, the Rocky Mountain Chapter planning team of Christine Franck, Cameron Kruger, and Tom Matthews, Don Ruggles, and Dean Mark Gelernter and the College of Architecture & Planning at UCD for hosting the conference and providing ICAA with use of UCO facilities.  Our very special thanks to Bill Harrison and Harrison Design Associates for sponsorship of  the 2014 National Curriculum Conference.

 

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Announcing a New Benefit for the ICAA Community

The ICAA is pleased to announce a collaboration with the Designers & Books Online Book Fair. This program allows members of the ICAA community to receive special discounts on books about architecture, art, design, and photography released by important publishers in these fields. This is an ongoing program and additional publishers and books will be added to the Online Book Fair site each month.

To receive the special discounts noted below, please use this partner code, which is special for the ICAA community, when checking out: 14BRXAA

AMMO Books: 50%

Applied Research + Design: 50%

Carnegie Hill Books: 10% (rare and out-of-print)

DoppelHouse Press: 40%

F.A. Bernett: 10% (rare and out-of-print)

Gestalten: 35%

Goff Books: 50%

Lars Muller Publishers: 35%

Laurence King Publishing: 50%

MIT Press: 40%

Modernism 101: (rare and out-of-print): 10%

Optos Books: 10% (rare and out-of-print)

ORO Editions: 50%

Paintbox Press: 20%

Prestel Publishing: 35%

Princeton Architectural Press: 50%

Schiffer Publishing: 35%

Strelka Institute: not applicable

Wolfsonian-Florida International University: 40%

Check-out occurs on the website of each individual publisher, which gives you the chance to browse additional books from the publishers and sign up for newsletters and social media updates that may interest you.

In addition to new and backlist books, the Online Book Fair also includes rare and out-of-print dealers, which will also offer special discounts.

If there are publishers or books you are interested in that you don’t find on the Online Book Fair site, you can let Designers & Books know using this email link so your suggestions can be addressed.

The Online Book Fair is a Designers & Books project. We hope you will find it to be an enjoyable place to browse and discover books, and to buy new additions for your library.

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World-Class Architects & Designers Discuss “Winning” Entries for Newman Awards

Colorado has an impressive display of architectural beauty, much of which harkens moments of luxury, classicism, and rustic comfort. It is this architecture that holds the region’s history and appeal. But how do great architectural designs like the ones Colorado is known for, come to fruition? We asked the jury of the Rocky Mountain Chapter’s 2014 Robert & Judi Newman Awards for Excellence in Classical & Traditional Design to share with us what they are looking for in award winning projects.

Jurors Michael Imber, Suzanne Tucker, and Dr. Mark Gelernter

The 2014 Newman Awards jury consisted of Michael Imber, FAIA; Suzanne Tucker, ASID; and Dr. Mark Gelernter, Professor of Architecture and Dean, University of Colorado Denver Graduate School of Architecture. They joined honorary jurors, Robert and Judi Newman in reviewing over 40 submissions in the categories of Commercial, Civic & Institutional Architecture, Residential Architecture, Interiors, Landscape Design, History & Journalism, Artisanship, and Student Award.

The jurors review submissions for the 2014 Newman Awards

When asked “What is it that you are looking for to deem an entry an award recipient?” the word cohesiveness came up time and time again. The jurors stressed the importance of having a complete and cohesive submission in all aspects, even down to the small details like lettering. Just as significant, is that the submission is well executed in the traditional design language and approach.

Each juror offered up ideas on what recipe other architects and designers might follow to have their design stand out from the rest:

Suzanne Tucker: Look at the submission logically and at what will have the most impact. Consider the story behind the project, use the best photography, and present the project in a way that flows clearly and logically.

Michael Imber: Focus on the ideas that reinforce the project and make it better. Being able to go back, edit, and clarify what is important about the project, and understanding what goes into the process to make the whole project shine.

Dr. Mark Gelernter: A design jury values: 1) The overall appearance of the submission – all of the details need to be pulled together in one composition or dominant idea. 2) Plans that are organized and clear, with a logical way of walking through the space. The less successful projects are those that are not pulled together as a harmonious whole.

The judging process for the 2014 Newman Awards

With more submissions this year than last, it is evident that there is a rising tide of interest in contemporary classicism throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Dr. Gelernter, who served on the jury for a second year in a row, noticed a wider range of traditional design languages being used with more confidence across all award categories this year. The level of the student submissions showed particular promise. The thoughtfulness, understanding of history, attention to detail, and overall execution of the student work made the jurors excited for the future of architecture in Colorado.

A Pre-Award Honorary Gala will be held on Thursday, August 21, 2014 from 4:30–7:30 pm at the Materials Marketing Showroom, located within the Denver Design District, where all submissions for the 2014 Newman Awards will be on display. Winners of the Newman Awards will be recognized at an evening ceremony held on September 17, 2014 in Denver. Details for both events can be found on the Rocky Mountain Chapter website.

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To Henry

Books from the Henry Hope Reed Collection

It’s an appropriate time for an update from the ICAA Library since this June coincides with the upcoming distribution of The Classicist No. 11 (many, many boxes are scheduled to land at our distributors next week).

The most recent volume of the The Classicist is dedicated to the memory of Henry Hope Reed, Jr. and features the Henry Hope Reed Honor Roll, a page dedicated to acknowledging the individuals and firms who generously made contributions in honor of Henry’s memory.

These contributions go directly towards the development of the Henry Hope Reed, Jr. Classroom, the ICAA Library, the Historic Plaster Cast Collection, and the Dick Reid Teaching Collection.

As the ICAA Librarian & Archivist, I wanted to say thank you to all of those individuals and firms who donated in Henry’s honor. Your contributions allow the library and collections not only to function but to flourish; from obtaining basic library supplies to maintaining our library management software to purchasing preservation supplies for our rare books.

Lately, one of my main library tasks is cataloging the Henry Hope Reed Collection, the approximately 300 books donated by Henry to the ICAA.  So far, there are 150 cataloged. (For a full list of these books, please contact collections@classicist.org.)

While cataloging the Henry Hope Reed Collection, it has been remarkable to see how many books were given to Henry by the authors, how many were dedicated to him, and how many included special letters or inscriptions. 

All of these notes express the impact that Henry had on these authors’ lives and careers, and are testaments to Henry’s influence and his legacy. 

To give you an idea, here are a few of the book inscriptions from the Henry Hope Reed Collection:

“To Henry, who was right on the mark before so many others. -Christopher”

Christopher Gray, author of Changing New York: The Architectural Scene

 

“To Henry Hope Reed, who has been a constant source of encouragement and invaluable help, and whose crusade for the ‘best remaining’ architecture has my undying support.”

Ben Hall, author of The Best Remaining Seats

 

“For Henry Hope Reed, with my thanks for sharing your knowledge and love of Manhattan with me. -Mary Black, 20 November, 1973″.

Mary Black, author of Old New York in Early Photographs

 

“For Henry, who helped teach New Yorkers to see the treasures in their midst. We are all heirs to his effect. With great respect, David. 31 May 2001. “

David W. Dunlap, author of Glory in Gotham

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