Summer Studio in Classical Architecture | Week 3

Students spent the third week of the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture exploring classical architectural design and composition through ongoing development of their studio design projects; continued studies in wash rendering; exploration of traditional materials and the architectural arts; and with on site study of exemplary achievements in classical design throughout New York.

Students at work

David Genther, assisted by Danielle Murphy, guided students through an ink wash rending of the Tuscan Order to investigate the qualities of light and shade on classical form.

Wash Rendering with David Genther

Guest lecturer presentations focused on the practice, history and theory of classical architecture. Bill Westfall, of the University of Notre Dame, highlighting themes from his new book, “Architecture, Liberty and Civic Order”, discussed the role of imitation in architectural practice; the relationship between architectural and urban elements; and the value of drawing upon history and tradition in building just, beautiful and sustainable cities.

Design Project underway

Christine Franck of the University of Colorado provided historical context on the resurgence of education in classical architecture and a survey of contemporary classical and traditional architecture and urban design.

Visits to the offices of Ferguson and Shamamian, and Gil Schafer helped to forge links between theory, concepts and practice. Mark Ferguson and Stephen Chrisman provided insights into the design process and the business of architecture essential to professional practice. Mickey Benson and Mark Pledger of Gil Schafer Architects walked through a series of design projects exemplifying the firms design methodology and use of precedent in creating new residential architecture reflective of regional character .

Ferguson and Shamamian’s office

EverGreene Architectural Arts gave a series of tutorials in their workshops on architectural restoration, conservation, architectural ornament, plasterwork and painting. Adrian Taylor and a team from Hyde Park Mouldings discussed architectural plaster and gave a demonstration in methods for making and laying plasterwork. Students had an opportunity to try their hand at Venetian plaster.

Evergreene Studios

Hyde Park Mouldings class with Adrian Taylor

Making and Laying plasterwork

Field studies throughout the week reinforced concepts introduced in lectures and the design studio. Architectural historians Francis Morrone and Matthew Postal introduced students to important classical buildings on the Upper East Side and lower Manhattan. Metropolitan Museum of Art curators Amelia Peck, Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide and Carlos Picón, shared their expertise on the period rooms of the American Wing; English rooms by Robert Adam and John Sanderson in the European galleries; and Greek & Roman antiquities .

Field trip with Francis Morrone

A field trip to significant homes and landscapes in the Hudson River Valley capped off the week. Richard Hampton Jenrette, founder of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, gave a personal tour of Edgewater House built in 1825. The trip concluded with a tour of nearby Montgomery Place by museum associate Lauren Bailey.

Edgewater with Richard Hampton Jenrette

Throughout the week and into the evening hours students were busy advancing development of their design projects in anticipation of the final week.

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Master Class

Peter’s Reflections
A monthly column by ICAA President, Peter Lyden

Summer Studio students in front of Edgewater

Over the last four weeks, our Summer Studio Driehaus Scholars have learned from some of New York’s greatest treasures, including brilliant visionaries, historic buildings, and priceless museum collections. Last Saturday, all three of these forms of inspiration converged, as our students visited Edgewater with the estate’s private owner, Richard H. Jenrette.

Edgewater Estate

Dick gave an unforgettable master class on classical architecture, the decorative arts, furniture, and landscape design. He shared his passion for reinstating Edgewater to its original prominence, while incorporating a touch of his dignified, individual taste. His approach to caretaking is an exhibition of true historic preservation, continually improving the estate while remaining true to its original character.

Dick Jenrette

Dick emphasized to the group the importance of the collaboration between the architect, interior designer, and landscape gardener in creating a unified result. This idea was solidified by our history lesson on the important alliance between architect A.J. Davis, and A.J. Downing, the “Father of American Landscape Architecture,” as well as Edgewater’s owner at the time, Robert Donaldson. Their partnership produced Edgewater’s brilliant harmony between the interior, the exterior, and the landscape.

The interiors of Edgewater

Dick shared fascinating stories about his treasured collections and his travels around the world to acquire original furniture pieces and paintings for Edgewater’s interiors. We also learned that he continually adds new pieces and updates his gardens to help Edgewater remain, tastefully, au courant.

The interiors of Edgewater

The students’ enthusiasm for classical architecture and their genuine appreciation of Dick’s encyclopedic knowledge and tireless efforts to restore Edgewater were infectious. Not only was I deeply inspired by the experience, but Dick was energized like I have never seen him before. I imagine that seeing the interest, passion, and talent of the next generation of classicists was a thrilling experience.  It was an unforgettable day for everyone involved, and I feel confident that the impact of Dick’s master class will continue to echo long into the future.

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An Interview with ICAA Summer Studio Students

As the ICAA’s four-week, immersive Summer Studio in Classical Architecture is coming to a close, we sat down with three students to hear their thoughts on the program:

Interview with Kelly Umutoni

Favorite activity/lecture?
Lecture on urbanism with Mike Watkins

Is it different than what you expected?
It’s a lot more rigorous than I thought.

What skills have you acquired?
Being able to understand space and how to organize it and proportion well and relate to it. I think that’s really important to understand before the design begins.

How’s the design project going?
Good. When they first told us we were going to do an Esquisse in two and a half hours, I didn’t believe it was going to be possible. But, we’ve come really far.

Have they provided sufficient guidance?
Yes, the lecturers especially have helped a lot to get to the final design.

Have you hand-drafted before?
No. The first perspective we did the other day in class was my first hand-constructed perspective. Yes, I like it better than the computer. It helps me understand how things are put together better.

Most transformative experience?
Getting to do the office visits are really cool. We forget about the whole other side to Architecture school which is the business side, the professional practice.


Interview with Sasha Pokrovskaya

How have you been enjoying the program?
Absolutely loving it. The program is excellent. I only wish it could be stretched out into an extra week!

Favorite activity/lecture?
I’ve enjoyed several of the lectures, especially the ones with Professor Westfall architecture as a civic act, New Urbanism with Mike Watkins and measured drawing with George Suamarez Smith. I’ve loved being able to study the theory of a design element and then to be able to go into the city and see those principles in use. The lectures on materials have been very insightful as well.

Has the program changed your thought process?
This program has not changed my thought process as much as confirmed my design instincts and interests. The professors have been very helpful. I’m really glad I’m here and would recommend the program to all. 


Interview with Jack Duncan

I’m Jack Duncan. I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. I went to the College of Charleston, and I studied Historic Preservation and Art History with a concentration in Architectural History. I’m here because I’m testing out the ideas of classical architecture and my pursuit of architecture. I’m applying to the University of Notre Dame in the fall for Graduate School, so I thought this would be a nice intro to classicism. Everything we’ve done has been extremely intensive, extremely informative. It’s nice that there’s so many people that are at the top of the classicism game teaching us. We can trust them. All of the people we’ve had lectures from are also at the top of academia concerning classical and traditional architecture, Richard Economakis, Bill Westfall, Christine Franck, all just very heavy hitters in the practice. So I’m grateful that I get to do this. I come from Charleston, which is a very traditional city. The city is of a different scale and proportion than New York. If I wasn’t from Charleston, I think I’d only yearn more for an opportunity like this to come in contact with classicism and the things we’re studying here.

The most advantageous thing is seeing working architects at the professional practice visits. Seeing how things happen and learning about them are very different.

The two architects I work for in Charleston are both from Notre Dame. The famous thing they say all the time is “Architects make drawings.” When they say that they laugh off the difficulty it takes to gain not only an Architect’s degree, but a classical Architect’s degree. There’s this paradigm of how you do things, how things fit together that we design off of that nobody knows. This experience has given me clarity on that. I know how things fit together now, the tectonics. They were blurry and fuzzy before. You know that incorporating a colonnade to the front of a building isn’t just like putting a stamp on an envelope. It has to fit and work tectonically. So the program is really clarifying tectonic structure in my mind. I actually understand in my mind now and move that from my mind to my hand and into my drawings.

My favorite event or activity or speaker has to be a three-way tie between Richard Economakis, Bill Westfall, and George Saumarez Smith. George Saumarez Smith was young, so he was amazing at connecting with us and helping us understand measured drawings and the process of sketching. Richard and Bill helped from a more academic approach, imparting their knowledge that they’ve acquired throughout their careers. Not that George didn’t do that as well. They just met us where we were skill-wise and knowledge-wise in different ways.

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Welcoming New Board Members

The ICAA welcomes five new members to its Board of Directors:

Michael Mesko
Practices architecture in New York City and has taught architectural design for the University of Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and the ICAA. Michael has served as President of the ICAA Fellows and as Chair of the Education and Curriculum Committees. 

Dave Perry-Miller
Dave Perry-Miller is the founder of a leading real estate firm in Dallas. He has been honored consistently as one of Dallas’ top producing firms for 30 years and is a recognized industry leader in property sales. Mr. Perry-Miller has also has been quoted frequently by The Wall Street JournalWorth Magazine, and U.S. News & World Report.

A graduate of Washington and Lee University, Mr. Perry-Miller is involved with the Dallas Area Scholarship Fund and he has previously served on numerous boards including Preservation Dallas, the P.M. League of the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Circle of Care for the American Diabetes Association. Recently, he served as president of the USA Film Festival.

Steven Gambrel
Steven Gambrel is the founder and president of his own interior design firm – S.R. Gambrel – specializing in residential and commercial commissions, as well as custom products and furnishings. Mr. Gambrel founded his firm in 1996 after earning a degree in architecture from the University of Virginia.

He recently developed a custom lighting line, accessories line, and plumbing fixture line. His work has been featured in World of Interiors, Architectural Digest, House and Garden, Town and Country, House Beautiful, New York Magazine, and The New York Times. S.R. Gambrel also has been continually honored in Architectural Digest’s “AD 100.”

Jared Goss
Jared Goss is an independent art historian. He was formerly an Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. During his 20-year career there he specialized in post-1900 design and architecture, helping organize exhibitions including Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1996), Cartier: 1900-1939 (1997), and American Modern, 1925-1940: Design for a New Age (2000). His 2009 exhibition, Masterpieces of French Art Deco, which drew over 600,000 visitors, serves as the basis for his recently published book French Art Deco (2014).

Kirk Henckels
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School, Kirk Henckels is currently Vice Chairman of Stribling and Associates and formerly President of Edward Lee Cave, Inc.  His fascination with Architecture began as a child, growing up in a Taliesin architect designed house, continued into a year in Florence where he was allowed access to the I Tatti’s library and finally to consulting on and the marketing of some of Manhattan’s best Pre-War cooperatives and townhouses.  He recently received the Delafield Award from Memorial Sloan Kettering for his years as Co-Chairman of their Special Projects Committee.  Kirk is also on the Board of Aiken Land Conservancy and he and his wife, Fernanda Kellogg, are active equestrians with the Millbrook and Aiken Hunts, and supporters of the US Equestrian Team.  He is co-authoring a book on Manhattan’s 12 most architecturally important luxury residential buildings.

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Inspired Places & Spaces – July

Four students from our Summer Studio in Classical Architecture took a break from their busy schedules to reveal the places where they find inspiration. George Burns, Sylvia Johnson, Kelly Umutoni, and Dalton Whiteside take us to exceptional places in New York, North Carolina, and Rome.

Biltmore Mansion (Photo:

George Burns: Considering the built environment, my favorite place or building would have to be the Biltmore Mansion by Richard Morris Hunt, completed in 1895. More than just a beautiful building, it demonstrates that High Classical landmark construction can be appropriate and contextual in rural America, a region that is near and dear to my heart. Additionally, Hunt gave us as designers a road map of sorts on how to engage design clients with his heavy involvement in precedent research, going so far as to travel Europe with George Vanderbilt searching for Chateaux precedents and the like. A work with that kind of devotion – beautiful.

The ICAA’s Summer Studio visits Old Westbury House and Gardens

Sylvia Johnson: If I had to pick my favorite building it would have to be the Old Westbury House and Gardens located in Westbury, New York. The home was completed in 1906 by the English designer George A. Crawley. The Charles II styled home was absolutely mind blowing. My favorite room is the master bathroom, which is fit for any woman in my opinion. The rhythm between the mansion and the landscape is absolutely delightful, the perfect precedent for a student such as myself.

The Spanish Steps, seen from Piazza di Spagna (Photo: Wikipedia)

Kelly Umutoni: My favorite place would have to be the Spanish Steps/Piazza Di Spagna in Rome, Italy. One of the reasons I love it so much there is because they attract people from all sorts of backgrounds. Another reason is because there is always an incredible atmosphere no matter what time you go there. I find the Piazza very welcoming; which I think is due to how curvy the steps and surrounding buildings make/shape the space.

The City College of New York (Photo:

Dalton Whiteside: If I were to pick a place that inspires me most, I would most definitely say The City College of New York on 139th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.  The campus was built from 1903 to 1907 by architect George B. Post and includes five Neo-Gothic buildings composed of white terracotta ornaments and native Manhattan schist facades.  The contrast of building materials and the majesty of the towering structures makes this my favorite place.

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Rome Drawing Tour 2015

From June 6th to the 13th, the ICAA held its annual Rome Drawing Tour. Classical enthusiasts gathered for a weeklong series of lectures, drawing and watercolor sessions. Instructors and tour leaders David Pearson, Selena Anders, and Stephen Harby focused on the classical architecture of Rome, beginning with sites from antiquity including the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Market. As the week progressed, the group visited sites from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, which included the Church of Saint’Ivo alla Sapienza, and Bramante’s Tempietto.

Of course no tour would be complete with out a trip to the Roman countryside. A special day trip to Tivoli was planned where the group visited the Villa Adriana and the Villa d’Este. At lunchtime, the group dined al fresco with stunning views of the landscape.

The Rome Drawing Tour is a truly unique experience for those looking to strengthen their own architectural drawing skills while experiencing one of Europe’s most illustrious cities.

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