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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Green-Wood Cemetery, Next Saturday

by Nora Reilly, ICA&CA Education Programs Coordinator

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting up with photographer Anne Day and Green-Wood Cemetery’s Education & Outreach Coordinator Steve Estroff for a rehearsal tour in preparation for next week’s class, Photography Tour: The Beauty of Green-Wood Cemetery; Saturday, October 2nd, 11:00am-2:00pm.

Not far from Prospect Park, Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as one of the first rural cemeteries in the country.  It boasts 478 acres of rolling hills, foot paths, a lily pond, trees that are literally hundreds of years old, and some of the more gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline I’ve ever seen.

We did quite a bit of walking, but Steve, who is a fountain of Green-Wood knowledge and who will be co-leading the tour in conjunction with Anne Day, was able to unplug Green-Wood’s electric car for a while so we could take a spin around the grounds and figure out the best route to take next Saturday.

Anne Day is the principal photographer for three books in the “Classical America Series on Art and Architecture.” She has extensive experience photographing classical architecture and a profound knowledge of the subject.  She herself was surprised at how many examples of classical architecture there are in the cemetery.  At one point as we zipped around in the electric car, we encountered a valley filled with mausoleums in the classical style, some with beautiful stained glass and many of them guarded by life-sized statues of angels.  It was truly stunning, and we will be sure to make a stop there next Saturday.

Other highlights include the Stewart mausoleum designed by Stanford White, as well as the monuments marking the graves of Louis Comfort Tiffany and De Witt Clinton.  (As well as those built for the inventor of soda and the inventor of the hot dog.  Be sure to ask Steve more about these guys.)

Come with your cameras and your Old New York curiosity, this is a truly unique ICA&CA offering.

And we just reduced the price…$50 for Members, $100 for non-members.

Sign up here!

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Dispatch from France

by Courtney Coleman, Fellow of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

I happened to be in the right place at the right time the afternoon of Monday, September 13, and was lucky enough to join the ICA&CA’s Private Classical Paris Travel Program, organized by Pamela Huntington Darling, for a tour of the Chateau Versailles on a day when the property is normally closed to visitors. Our tour guides, a chief architect and a chief curator at the palace, did a wonderful job tailoring the tour to our group, explaining the history of the palace and how the court used various spaces, and also pointing out the particular architectural features and decorative details of each space. They led us through ceremonial rooms like the Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Opera House, as well as the less-visited private apartments of the royal family, including the private passages the family used to escape the invading revolutionary mob.  For me, it was a special treat to see the palace with the Private Paris group, many of whom had fascinating observations about things like subtle differences in gilding techniques, the carving process for boiserie ornament, and the themes of the allegorical ceiling paintings.

The photo here shows one of our guides describing the fabrication of the large sheets of plate glass mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors.  At the time the Hall was constructed in the mid-1600s, Venice held the monopoly on the manufacture of mirrors.  However, the French were able to appropriate the closely-guarded technology by persuading Venetian artisans to move to France to produce glass and mirrors solely for the decoration of Versailles and other royal palaces.

Stay tuned for further posts about this wonderful ICA&CA Travel Program. Meanwhile, I’m delighted to pass along the news that the tour was off to a fantastic start.

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Classical Comments: The Bracketed Cornice

by Calder Loth

Among the most influential of all treatises on classical architecture is Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola’s Canon of the Five Orders of Architecture (1562). The work is primarily a manual for drawing and applying each of the orders. It illustrates no designs with the exception of the last plate—Plate 32, a design for a cornice. The design incorporates what is essentially a Corinthian cornice using standard scrolled modillions enriched with acanthus leaves. However, below each modillion is an elongated console occupying a tall frieze area somewhat resembling a Doric frieze of triglyphs and metopes. (Fig. 1) This makes for a building crown with strong vertical emphasis. Vignola’s text for the plate states the following: I have used this cornice successfully in my work on the upper part of façades. Although it is my invention, I do not find it inappropriate to place it at the end of this work for those who want to use it. The height of the façade should be divided into 11 parts, 1 of which should be assigned to the cornice and the remaining 10 to the façade.

Fig. 1: Plate 32, Canon of the Five Orders of Architecture

Fig. 2: Villa Franese at Caparola, Italy (Loth)

Fig. 3: Palazzo Altieri, Rome (Loth)

Fig. 4: bank buildings, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia (Loth)

Fig. 5: Stearns Block, Richmond, Virginia (Loth)

Vignola thus is offering a cornice weighty enough to cap a very tall building, a design known to us as the ‘bracketed cornice.’ It would be difficult to name a single plate in any architectural treatise having more widespread influence than Vignola’s Plate 32. Thousands of cornices throughout the Western World owe their appearance directly or indirectly to this illustration of Vignola’s ‘invention.’ One of the earliest uses of the cornice is found on Vignola’s own work: the Villa Farnese at Caparola, completed ca. 1575. (Fig. 2) The bracketed cornice topping this huge pentagonal structure has to carry not only the building’s upper order but also the entire towering façade. A standard entablature proportioned to the villa’s uppermost pilasters would be too weak. Numerous Italian Renaissance palaces employing bracketed cornices soon appeared. Typical of many is Antonio de Rossi’s Palazzo Altieri in Rome, begun in 1650, its façade given prominence by the Vignola-style cornice. (Fig. 3)

The use of the bracketed cornice underwent an extensive resurgence in mid-19th-century America with the popularization of the Italian Renaissance image or Italianate style for commercial and residential buildings. The Italianate style was a convenient means for introducing patrician elegance to façades in the cities and towns of the expanding young nation. We see dignified examples of this phenomenon in Philadelphia’s mid-19th-century bank buildings, lending a flavor of Renaissance Venice to Chestnut Street. (Fig. 4 ) Many such facades could be produced quickly and cheaply using cast-iron elements as on the 1869 Stearns Block in Virginia, the components of which were produced by Heyward, Bartlett, & Co. of Baltimore. (Fig. 5) Nearly every one of New York City’s Italianate-style brownstones boasts a bracketed cornice. A relatively late but classic example of a Vignola-type bracketed cornice tops the 1920 Ziegler mansion by Sterner & Wolfe on 63rd Street, now the New York Academy of Sciences (Fig. 6)

Fig. 6: cornice detail, Ziegler House, New York City (Loth)

The introduction of steam-powered industrial saws in the 1840s made possible an extraordinary variety of wooden brackets for Italianate-style structures. The page of brackets shown in the 1870s catalogue of the J. J. Montague Woodworking Co. of Richmond, Virginia is a tiny sample of the range of brackets commercially available for decorating one’s home or shop. (Fig. 7) The mid-19th-century country house near Odessa, Delaware illustrates how the use of a bold bracketed cornice could transform an American family home into an Italian palazzo. (Fig. 8 ) Indeed, no matter how humble, a bracketed cornice could link even a 19th-century working-class dwelling to the glories of the Italian Renaissance. (Fig .9)

Fig. 7: J. J. Montague Woodworking Company Catalogue, Richmond, Virginia

Fig. 8: farmhouse near Odessa, Delaware (Loth)

We might think that the bracketed cornice has been played out: all that can be said with it has been said. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see a new interpretation Vignola’s invention, in of all places downtown Moscow. There the imaginative architect, Ilya Utkin, has inspired us with his elegant Dvoryanskoye Gnezdo (A Nest of Gentryfolk), a luxury apartment house completed in 2004 and sporting a bold version of the bracket cornice. (Fig. 10)

Fig. 9: worker’s dwelling, Oregon Hill, Richmond, Virginia (Loth)

Fig. 10: Dvoryanskoye Gnezdo, Moscow, Russia (Loth)

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Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America: Call for Submissions for the 2011 Arthur Ross Awards

Arthur Ross (1910-2007)

Nominations and submissions for the 2011 Arthur Ross Awards are due on Wednesday,December 15, 2010. Established in 1982 by Classical America chairman of the board, Arthur Ross, and its president, Henry Hope Reed, the Arthur Ross Awards were created to recognize and celebrate excellence in the classical tradition. From the beginning, the awards have recognized the achievements and contributions of architects, painters, sculptors, artisans, landscape designers, educators, publishers, patrons, and others dedicated to preserving and advancing the classical tradition.

The Arthur Ross Awards now encompass eleven categories: architecture, artisanship, community design, education, history and publishing, landscape design, painting/mural painting, patronage, rendering, sculpture, and stewardship. There is a limit of five awards selected each year from across this spectrum of vital and mutually-reinforcing roles, along occasionally with special recognition across categories as recommended by the Arthur Ross jury and affirmed by the board of directors as was the case with the multi-disciplinary salute to scholar, educator, and preservationist (and guest blogger), Calder Loth.

A jury consisting of ICA&CA board membersCouncil of AdvisorsFellows, and distinguished experts in pertinent professions chooses awardees each year. The 2011 jury chairman isWilliam Harrison, ICA&CA board member and founder of Harrison Design Associates. Details on categories and criteriasubmission and nomination requirements, and past winners are available now.

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