Stone Carver Nicholas Benson Recieves MacArthur Genius Award

By Paul Gunther, President, Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

The artisan winners of the 2005 Arthur Ross Award for Excellence in the Classical Tradition were the peerless stone carvers of the John Stevens Shop of Newport, Rhode Island, where John Everett Benson and his son and current proprietor, Nick have maintained and extended a standard of American craft excellence in place for more than 300 years. The Institute was grateful to so recognize as such an example helps stimulate and realize contemporary design aspiration as it also allows continuity of skill handed through generations.

Nicholas Benson

Nick Benson is a masterful stone carver who learned the great tradition of Roman stone carving and architectural lettering from his father and his grandfather. The Benson designs and exquisite hand—carved stone inscriptions grace many of America’s leading landmarks—The National Gallery of Art, The Boston Public Library, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial—and revered national memorials to Presidents John F. Kennedy at Arlington and Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington. Nick has continued this noble enterprise from the historic John Stevens Workshop, founded by the Yorkshire stone carver who came to America in the eighteenth century.


Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. with hand carved names.

John F. Kennedy grave site.

With all this in mind, the ICA&CA community is especially thrilled with news that Nick Benson has been named one of the 2010 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellows. It is intoxicating that Nick’s “genius” of classical accomplishment has found its due place at the edge of future promise and modern application.

Tools and inspiration at the John Stevens Shop in Newport, Rhode Island.

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Brent Hull and Christine G.H. Franck Recieve Award

Congratulations to Fort Worth home builder and master-craftsman Brent Hull and Christine G. H. Franck, New York-based designer and Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America board member. They are the recent recipients of the 2010 Historic Fort Worth Residential Award, which recognizes excellence in the rehabilitation of historic homes.


Byrd Residence "Before"

The Brent Hull Companies collaborated with Christine G. H. Franck, Inc. to restore the Byrd Residence to its original charm. Built in 1938 in Fort Worth’s Colonial Addition neighborhood, the Colonial Revival style home suffered from an insensitive 1990s renovation. Additions of incorrectly proportioned columns, heavy-cast stone trim, and stripping of the original whitewashing and shutters all compromised the home’s original grace. In 2009 the extensive renovation and addition by Mr. Hull and Ms. Franck returned the house to its former beauty and updated it for  contemporary living.

Byrd Residence "After"

Façade renovations included replacing ungainly columns and cast stone trim, re-whitewashing brick, and replacing dark green shutters. An addition to the rear of the house expanded both indoor and outdoor living space without unduly increasing the size of the house visible from the street. In their work together on this renovation, Hull and Franck demonstrate how basic principles of classical architecture such as proportion and scale, so often misunderstood in


Byrd Residence detail "Before"

Byrd Residence detail “After”

today’s typical McMansions, should work together harmoniously.

Brent Hull is a builder of fine residences, master-craftsman, author, and nationally recognized expert on historic millwork and molding design. Christine G. H. Franck is a designer, adjunct professor of architecture, ICA&CA board member, and author specializing in classical architecture and traditional American domestic architecture.

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ICA&CA Rieger Graham Prize Winner Settles in at the American Academy in Rome

The third winner of the ICA&CA Rieger Graham Prize, Jana K. Vandergoot, RA, and her husband, Visiting Scholar Michael Ezban, arrived at the American Academy in Rome on September 13 along with the rest of the AAR community and Fellows. Jana’s affiliated fellowship there will last until December and the focus of her winning proposal is to study the symbiosis between classical Roman architecture and ancient food trade networks. In particular, she will research the architecture of the Forum Boarium, the Markets of Trajan, and the Theater of Pompey. Already she has been hanging out with the executive chef at the AAR, where the communal meals are an important and delicious aspect of the experience there. To follow their discoveries and research Jana and Mike have created a blog called VE Studio. Check it out!

The Forum Boarium was the cattle market of ancient Rome.

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ICA&CA Alma Schapiro Prize for Fine Artists: Submission Deadline Announced

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America announces the deadline for submissions for the Alma Schapiro Prize, which advances the career of an artist recipient and to foster the continuity of knowledge of the classical tradition as a vital aspect of contemporary culture around the globe.

The centerpiece of the prize is a three-month affiliated fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, the premier American overseas center for independent study and research in the fine arts and humanities. The total award will include Academy fees, travel allotment, and award stipend. The proposed three-month stay must begin between September 2011 and March 2012 and to conclude no later than May 31, 2012. The application deadline is Monday, November 1, 2010.

The prize is open to United States citizens who are at least 21 years of age. A formal Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree is not required, although some rigorous training and above all career accomplishment in painting or sculpture tied in expression and technique to contemporary classicism are essential for competitive applications. Previous Alma Schapiro Prize winners are Michael Grimaldi and D. Jeffrey Mims.

Click submission instructions and application or contact alma.schapiro@gmail.com

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Fairy Book Suburb on Long Island

Francis Morrone leads the tour of Forest Hills Gardens, phobo by Steve Bass

By the time participants of Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America’s Discover Classical New York tour reached the final stop on Saturday’s walking tour, we had discovered an excellent example of the garden city movement, observed exceptional urban planning, and imagined inventor Guyon Earle’s one-piece kitchen.

Just another typical Institute walking tour with historian and author, Francis Morrone!

Morrone began our tour with stops on Queens Boulevard, including the Ridgewood Savings Bank (Halsey, McCormack and Helmer, 1940) and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs R. C. Church (Maginnis & Walsh, 1939). While viewing several 1926 Row House Ensembles by architect Robert Tappan on 75th Road, Morrone declared Atterbury and Olmstead Jr. members of what he called the “Giants of 1870,” a generation of architects and designers whose unique and often unheralded style falls somewhere after the Beaux-Arts and before the modernist movements.

Along the way, Morrone illuminated his thesis with fascinating social history and numerous examples of the genius of the “Giants of 1870.” The tour made stops at Holland House, Forest Hills Gardens Park, the Community Center, Church-in-the-Gardens, The Leslie, West Side Tennis Club (home to the US Open from 1915-1978 and first-ever Beatles concert in 1964), single family homes, and 6 Burn Street (former home to Buckminster Fuller and that one-piece kitchen, referenced above).

Morrone promised the last stop would “change our lives.” Atterbury’s Forest Hills LIRR Station at Station Square, with its echoes of a charming Bavarian village, made the perfect fairy book ending to our tour.

Don’t miss future Discover Classical New York tours with Francis Morrone and be sure to check out The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury by Institute Chairman Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker.

Forest Hills LIRR Station (Atterbury)

What is your favorite classical New York destination?

Please recommend a destination located in any of the five boroughs worthy of discovering. If we choose your suggestion, you and a guest will receive two free tickets to a Discover Classical New York walking tour.

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Adele Chatfield-Taylor to receive Vincent Scully Prize

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America congratulates Adele Chatfield Taylor, president of the American Academy in Rome, who has been named the National Building Museum’s twelfth laureate of the Vincent Scully Prize. In announcing her selection, members of the Vincent Scully jury—jury chair David Schwarz, Deborah Berke, Ned Cramer, and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk—noted that through a variety of positions in her career, Ms. Chatfield-Taylor has consistently promoted excellence in the design world, while ensuring that the planning, architecture, and historic preservation disciplines remain connected to the public.


Adele Chatfield-Taylor at the 2008 ICA&CA Arthur Ross Awards honoring excellence in the classical tradition.

Since December 1988, Adele Chatfield-Taylor has been president of the American Academy in Rome, a center for independent study and advanced research in the fine arts and humanities.  Among Adele’s many professional affiliations, she is a much-admired and respected member of the ICA&CA board of directors.

The award presentation and lecture will be held at the National Building Museum on November 8, 2010.

Leave your congratulatory comments to Adele below.

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