Rocky Mountain Classicism

By Christine G. H. Franck

“We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.”
– Henry David Thoreau[i]

At dawn I jogged up the granite steps of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. Reaching the top and turning to face Civic Center Park and its dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, I succumbed to the awe any Easterner feels in the vast American West. Below me lay a graceful tableau of Beaux-Arts city planning painted in green grass and trees and white marble, purple mountains and Colorado-blue sky. It hardly seemed to contain the uncontainable space and energy of the West.

Figure 1 – My early morning view of Civic Center Park from the steps of the Colorado State Capitol.

The American spirit is palpable here and it seems to be fueling one of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art’s newest dynamic chapters: The Rocky Mountain Chapter. Years ago Tom Matthews, an architect in Denver and ICAA Fellow, approached me at a Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference and asked about starting a chapter in Denver. I thought to myself, “is there classical architecture in Denver?” Yes, I have come to discover, there is!

Fast forward a few years and here I was in Denver joining ICAA Chairman Peter Pennoyer and Mark Gelernter, Dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado, to jury the chapter’s inaugural Robert and Judi Newman Awards for Excellence in Classical & Traditional Design. With dedicated trustees including chapter President Don Ruggles, Vice-president Eric Mandil, Secretary Tom Matthews, and Treasurer Melissa Mabe-Sabanosh the chapter has quickly become an important part of Denver’s architectural scene.

Figure 2 – A new classical home in Denver by DHR Architecture.

 

Most notably they have supported the University of Colorado at Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning’s new Certificate in Classical Architecture. Dean Mark Gelernter, Associate Professor Taisto Makela, and lecturer Cameron Kruger worked with ICAA President Paul Gunther and instructors Richard Cameron, Marvin Clawson, Michael Djordjevitch, Michael Mesko, and Andy Taylor to develop this offering.

Figure 3 – Project by Kai Fishman from the University of Colorado at Denver College of Architecture and Planning’s topic area in classical architecture.

While in Denver I toured the college with Dean Gelernter and was thrilled to see a new generation learning classical architecture. The vitality I felt everywhere in Denver was present here too. The college has just launched a four year Bachelor of Science in Architecture, is renovating its studios, and has an enviable downtown location at the heart of Denver’s history.

Figure 4 – A view down Larimer Street from the College’s newly renovated studios.

The synergy between the college, chapter, and local professionals is enlivening an already vibrant architectural community in Denver. Our jury weekend began with a sociable lunch hosted by John Carlen of Xssentials where I enjoyed meeting Denver faculty members and lecturers Ann Komara, Cameron Kruger, Taisto Makela, and visiting with longtime friends – ICAA instructor Marvin Clawson and architect Rene Clawson, who were in town for the AIA Convention.

After a tour of the college with Dean Gelernter, Tom Matthews and Don Ruggles whisked me away for a whirlwind tour of Denver’s architectural treasures. We began downtown and spent the afternoon seeing a range of houses in the Belcaro and Denver Country Club neighborhoods, including many projects from architect Jacques Benedict (1879-1948) who settled to work in Denver after studying at the École des Beaux-Arts and working with Carrére & Hastings.

Figure 5 – Don Ruggles and I in front of the Phipps House in the historic Belcaro neighborhood discussing the work of Charles Platt. (Photography by Tom Matthews).

Rounding off our day was a delightfully urbane rooftop party at the home and office of Eric Mandil of Mandil, Inc. The following day, Don Ruggles graciously hosted the jury in his office with chapter trustee Bill Miller of Waterworks facilitating our deliberations and intern Dakota Walters observing. It was exciting to review so many good projects, including some impressive student work. Winners will be announced in the near future.

Figure 6 – From left to right, jury facilitator and ICAA RMC trustee Bill Miller, juror and ICAA Chairman Peter Pennoyer, jury observer and intern Dakota Walters, juror and College of Architecture and Planning Dean Mark Gelernter, juror and designer Christine G. H. Franck, and architect and ICAA RMC President Don Ruggles after the jury at DHR Architecture.

Recalling my jog around Denver’s Civic Center Park the morning of our jury deliberations, I remember pausing on the step marking Denver’s mile high elevation and catching my breath. Gazing out at the wondrous sight of Beaux-Arts classicism at the foot of the Rockies, I reflected upon the growth of the ICAA as manifest in the Rocky Mountain Chapter. The American spirit is enduringly optimistic, confident and forward thinking. I see its presence equally in Denver, in the ICAA Rocky Mountain Chapter, and in this moment of the ICAA’s history.


[i] Henry David Thoreau. “Walking” (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 218, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

Posted by Richard McGovern on | 1 Comment

CLASSICAL COMMENTS: MUSINGS ON IRISH ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS

Calder Loth

Calder Loth

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.

It was an enriching experience to have been a participant in the ICAA tour Great Houses & Gardens of Northern Ireland & the Republic, May 2013. For both aficionados and connoisseurs of classical architecture, the places we visited were a feast to the eye. Each site presented a host of offerings, including history, architecture, collections, landscape, as well as hospitality, making it challenging to absorb it all. For me, it was intriguing to observe an array of specific architectural details and then puzzle over their derivations.  Naturally, our rich itinerary offered a treasure trove of details to ponder. Space here allows me to discuss only a sampling, but I hope this small selection will remind us that details, especially classical details, have much to tell us.

Temple of the Winds; Tower of the WindsFigure 1: Temple of the Winds, Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland (Loth).
Figure 2: Tower of the Winds, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1, Ch. III, Plate III.

 

Figure 3: Tower of the Winds capital, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1, Ch. III, Plate VII (detail).
Figure 4: Column capital, Temple of the Winds (Loth).

 

Among the most admired of Northern Ireland’s landmarks is James Stuart’s Temple of the Winds at Mount Stewart, built 1765. (Figure 1) This gem was inspired by the Tower of the Winds, the ancient octagonal structure at the base of the Acropolis, recorded by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett and published in Volume I (1762) of  their monumental study of ancient Greek architecture, The Antiquities of Athens. (Figure 2) The most conspicuous difference between the ancient structure and the Irish one is that the latter does not repeat the wide frieze of sculptural representations of the eight winds. Nor do we find windows in the Athenian work.   Stuart, however, faithfully employed the distinctive order that he and Revett found on the Tower of the Winds’ two dwarf porticoes.[i] The capital is a variant of the Greek Corinthian, consisting of one row of acanthus leaves below a row of palm fronds. (Figure 3) Stuart gave his Irish capitals greater flare than his illustration in Antiquities of Athens. The fronds are more deeply undercut and have decidedly more curve than the ancient ones, giving the impression that they are not merely decorating the bell of the capital but are straining to support the abacus. (Figure 4) The Mount Stewart temple is one of the earliest modern applications of the Tower of the Winds Corinthian, an order since employed on thousands buildings throughout Europe and America.[ii]

Castle Coole

Figure 5: Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland (Loth).

Figure 6: Castle Coole, rotunda pilaster capital (Loth).
Figure 8: “Temple of Vesta” capital, Plate III, Les Édificies Antiques de Rome.

Figure 7: “Temple of Vesta”, Rome (Loth)

Castle Coole, a masterpiece of the Anglo-Palladian style by James Wyatt, presents an unfolding inventory of curiosity-provoking details. Begun in 1790, the house has the five-part format favored by the British Palladians. (Figure 5) Decorating the interior rotunda is a series of Corinthian pilasters with mottled scagliola shafts.  A prominent feature of each pilaster capital is the sharply pointed abacus, a contrast to the usual chamfered tips. (Figure 6) Normally, we associate this type of abacus with Greek works.  A look through The Antiquities of Athens showed the Library of Hadrian, the Temple of Jupiter, the Arch of Hadrian, and the Ruin at Salonika all displaying Corinthian capitals with pointed abaci. Nevertheless, none was an exact match to Castle Coole’s capital. What then was Wyatt’s model for the castle’s order?  It occurred that the so-called Temple of Vesta has Corinthian capitals with pointed abaci.[iii] Dating from the 2nd century B.C., this circular structure near the Tiber River is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rome. (Figure 7) It may have been the work of Greek artisans; its columns are Pentellic marble, the same used for the Parthenon. The capitals have long been partly shielded from view by a Medieval conical roof. Fortunately, the indefatigable Antoine Babuty Desgodetz faithfully recorded the temple’s capitals in his voluminous study: Les Édificies Antiques de Rome (1682). (Figure 8) We see his depiction of the temple’s capital as a near match to Castle Coole’s, with pointed abaci and an acanthus leaf cradling seeds in each abacus, a detail unique to this structure. We are unsure whether the decision to follow Desgodetz’s illustration was Wyatt’s or that of Joseph Rose, Castle Coole’s plasterer.

Figure 9: Castle Coole, stair hall capital (Loth).
Figure 10: Doric capital, The British Architect, plate IV (detail).

 

Other Castle Coole capitals eliciting interest are those in the upper level of the stately stair hall. (Figure 9) The distinguishing features of each capital are the egg-and-dart echinus and the wide necking decorated with small classical motifs, including rosettes and pinched leaves. Both Vincenzo Scamozzi and Giacomo Vignola published similar versions of this capital in their 16th-century treatises. However, both of their depictions included a bead-and-reel molding under the echinus and a decorated molding topping the abacus. The Castle Coole capital has neither. Hence, the more likely design source for the capitals is the Doric order in Abraham Swan’s The British Architect, published in 1757. (Figure 10) Swan’s capital, like Castle Coole’s, has no bead-and reel molding and no decorated cap on the abacus. The ornaments in the necking vary slightly.

Figure 11: Seaforde House, County Down, Northern Ireland (Loth).

Figure 12: Seaforde House library capital (Loth).

Figure 13: vignette, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. III, p. 51.
Figure 14: cresting, Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1, Ch. IV, Plate VI (detail).

 

The finely articulated interior details of the 1816 Seaforde House are a striking contrast to the mansion’s severely plain exterior. (Figure 11)  This starkness is odd when we realize that its architect, Peter Frederick Robinson, designed such fanciful works as the “Egyptian Hall” in London’s Piccadilly (demolished) and the Regent’s Park Swiss Cottage (demolished), and assisted with the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.  Yet, we see Robinson’s creativity at work in the pilaster capitals defining the bookcases in the Seaforde House library. (Figure 12)  A perusal of the standard architectural treatises of the period reveals no exact parallel.  We can only guess that Robinson selected certain details from The Antiquities of Athens and combined them to make his own Grecian-style composition. The central anthemion growing out of scrolls may have been derived from a vignette in Volume III. (Figure 13) The sinewy talon-like figures below were possibly inspired by the similar forms in Stuart and Revett’s depiction of the cresting of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates (Figure 14). I hope this speculation might encourage further investigation of this handsomely erudite capital.

Figure 15: Hillsborough Castle, County Down, Northern Ireland (Loth).

Figure 16: Hillsborough Castle, side portico detail (Loth).

Figure 17: Ionic capital, Temple on the Ilissus, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1, Ch. II, Plate VI (detail).

 

Hillsborough Castle near Belfast serves as the official residence of the Queen and members of the royal family when they visit Northern Ireland. The house dates from the 1770s, with various extensions made in the 1830s and ‘40s. Sheltering the main entrance is a colonnade employing a generic Ionic order. (Figure 15)  Of more interest is the shallow tetrastyle portico fronting the courtyard entrance to the south wing. The Ionic order here is a faithful adaptation of the order of the Temple on the Ilissus River in Athens.[iv] (Figure 16) The tiny amphiprostyle temple was demolished sometime in the 19th century and is known only through the several illustrations in The Antiquities of Athens. (Figure 17) The simple dignity of the order made it a favorite of Greek Revival architects throughout the British Isles and America. At Hillsborough, we see only slight variations from the original. The architrave is not as deep and the bands on the volutes are flat rather than grooved as shown by Stuart and Revett.[v] Moreover, the columns have plan shafts—probably to avoid competing with the unfluted columns of the main entrance. Stuart and Revett also indicated sculptured figures in the frieze, but noted that they had been lost and probably were a later addition anyway. Nearly all modern versions of the order have a plain frieze.

Figure 18: Barons Court, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland (Loth).

Figure 19: Barons Court, portico detail (Loth).

Figure 20: Entablature frieze, Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. II, Ch. IV, Plate IV (detail).
Figure 21: Erechtheum capital, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. II, Ch. II, Plate V (detail).

 

A highlight of the tour was a visit to Barons Court, seat of the Duke of Abercorn. (Figure 18) The house is a sprawling assemblage begun in the 1780s and evolved through alterations, a post-fire rebuilding, more additions, and partial demolition, all taking place over a century and more. The present north elevation, now the entrance front, is largely the work of Sir Albert Richardson, dating from 1946.  The façade is dominated by a tetrastyle Ionic portico doubling as a porte-cochere. Here we see yet more reliance on The Antiquities of Athens as a design source, although later publications of the same Greek motifs may instead have come into play. (Figure 19) The wreathes decorating the Barons Court frieze are symbols of achievement, derived from Stuart and Revett’s illustration of the wreathes in the entablature of Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus. (Figure 20) The portico capitals are a somewhat simplified version of the capitals on the Erechtheum, also depicted by Stuart and Revett. (Figure 21) The defining features of the Erechtheum’s Ionic order are the drapery like folds in the volutes and the anthemions decorating the wide necking below the egg-and-dart echinus. The Erechtheum has three sets of Ionic capitals, each  slightly different. The example shown here is from the eastern elevation, the simplest version. The Barons Court capitals eliminate the braded band just above the echinus.

Figure 22: Beaulieu, County Louth, Republic of Ireland (Loth).

Figure 23: Beaulieu, exterior cornice modillions (Loth).

Figure 24: Corinthian cornice, L’Idea della Architettura Universale, Book IV, Folio 97 (detail).

 

A landmark dwelling of the Irish Republic is Beaulieu House, one of Ireland’s earliest unfortified manor houses. (Figure 22) Begun in 1660, its construction coincides with the restoration of the monarchy and the subsequent coronation of Charles II in 1661. The house displays a decidedly Dutch influence, particularly in its molded brick detailing. Notwithstanding the rich 17th-century interiors, my attention was drawn to the boldly carved Corinthian modillions on the exterior cornice, clearly the work of a woodworker intent on maintaining consistency with the overall virility of the house. (Figure 23) The scrolled modillions feature deeply cut acanthus leaves and carved moldings. They differ from standard Corinthian modillions by having flat scrolls on the sides that twist into a spiral without the normal rosette in the center. A graphic source for such a modillion available during Beaulieu’s construction period is Book IV of Vincenzo Scamozzi’s L’Idea della Architettura Universale (1615). (Figure 24)  This work, along with Palladio’s I Quatro Libri (1570), was a standard reference for the classical orders in the 17th century. Inigo Jones, who met Scamozzi, owned Scamozzi’s treatise. It was available to Dutch artisans through its publication in the Netherlands in 1640.  Scamozzi’s modillion for the Corinthian order has the same basic boldness as Beaulieu’s and the same inner coil without rosette.

Figure 25: Townely Hall, County Louth, Republic of Ireland (Loth).

Figure 26: Townely Hall, reception room doorway detail (Loth)

Figure 27: Erechtheum doorway, Parallel of the Classical Orders of Architecture, (Acanthus Press reprint, 1998), Plate 93 (detail).

 

Townely Hall in County Louth exhibits the mastery of Irish architect Francis Johnston (Figure 25). Completed by 1799, the highly ascetic exterior gives no hint of the stunning interiors, particularly the central domed stair hall, one of Ireland’s great architectural spaces. However, a handsome but puzzling interior feature is the doorway in one of the reception rooms. (Figure 26) Its richly carved trim is adapted almost precisely from the doorway within the north portico of the Erechtheum. So we ask, where did Francis Johnston find an image of this doorway to copy for Townely Hall? Neither of the standard 18th-century works on Greek architecture: Stuart and Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens and Julien-David Le Roy’s Les ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grece (1758) offer illustrations of this doorway.  Indeed the “as is” views of the Erechtheum in both works show the north portico walled up with rubble, hiding the doorway from view. Furthermore, Stuart and Revett stated: “We found the Portico of Minerva Polais [Erechtheum north portico] walled up, being a magazine of military stores, all entrance into it was denied.”[vi] The image of the Erechtheum doorway shown here is from the 1998 Acanthus Press reprint of Johann Matthaus von Mauch and Charles Pierre Joseph Normand’s Parallel of the Classical Orders of Architecture. (Figure 27) The original caption for this plate states the illustration was “First published in Normand, 1830-36, plate 83.” [vii] Normand’s source for this drawing is not stated. Francis Johnston’s source for the doorway in Townely Hall also remains a mystery, at least for me. Indeed, is the doorway original to the house or is it a latter addition installed when published images of the Erechtheum doorway became available?

Figure 28: Russborough, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland (Loth).

Figure 29: Russborough, east dependency end wall (Loth).
Figure 30: Villa Poiana entrance, Pojana Maggiore, Italy (Loth).

 

Andrea Palladio’s several villa designs incorporating colonnaded quadrant wings connecting the residence to barchesse or service structures served as the inspiration for Russborough, a prodigious monument of the Anglo-Palladian movement. (Figure 28)  Designed by Richard Castle and completed in 1751, the house and its several appendages present a facade more than 700 feet in length. Alas, prohibition of interior photographs prevented me from capturing and sharing any interesting details within. That notwithstanding, my attention fixed on a treatment of the end wall of one of the extreme terminal wings. The otherwise blank wall is highlighted by a blind Palladian or Venetian arch, reduced to its essentials. (Figure 29)  Its resemblance to the entrance feature of Palladio’s Villa Poiana is striking. (Figure 30)  Yet Palladio’s published elevation of the villa shows columns supporting the arch rather than bare piers and no circular indentations. This leaves us to wonder whether the architect thought on his own to strip the feature to its basics, or did he see an image of the villa as built? Castle traveled on the Continent but there is no indication that he visited the Veneto.

Figure 31: Castletown, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland (Loth).

Figure 32: Castletown, Print Room doorway (Loth).

Figure 33: Doorway design, Upwards of One Hundred and Fifty New Designs for Chimney Pieces, Plate 25 (detail).

 

Unquestionably, the most splendid of Ireland’s Anglo-Palladian piles is Castletown, thankfully rescued from threatened demolition by the Hon. Desmond Guinness in 1967, and now under the care of the state. (Figure 31) The resemblance of the central mass to an Italian palazzo is not surprising when we learn that it was designed by Allesandro Galilei, a gifted Italian architect best known for his gigantic façade for Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran. Castletown’s regal interiors are renowned. A doctoral dissertation is required to do them justice. I will focus on one detail: a doorway in the famous ca. 1765 print room. (Figure 32)  The doorway features a compressed pulvinated frieze enriched with a series of boldly carved upright acanthus leaves. Decorating the bed moldings are foliated carvings and a dentil course. The crown molding and backband also are set off with carved decorations. This type of treatment was not unusual for high-style mid-Georgian interiors. However, we must question whether the design was part of the standard repertoire of Castletown’s artisans, or whether they relied on a published source. If the latter, we can look at Plate 25 of Abraham Swan’s Upwards of One Hundred and Fifty New Designs for Chimney Pieces. . . (1768), where we see a doorway design with numerous similarities. (Figure 33)  Because Swan’s publication date is three years later than the date attributed to the room, we cannot say with certainty that the artisans were following this particular image. Nevertheless, Swan’s design was probably based on schemes in wide use at the time.

Figure 34: Postgraduate Studies Reading Room, Trinity College, Dublin (Loth).

Figure 35: Postgraduate Studies Reading Room, entablature detail (Loth).

Figure 36: Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. II, Ch. IV, Plate IV (detail).

 

Some free time in Dublin allowed me to wander into the ‘squares’ of Trinity College. The precinct is dominated by the stately Georgian edifices by Sir William Chambers. However, my instinctive interest in the Greek Revival drew me to a small building tucked in the surrounding  assemblage. (Figure 34) What any architectural historian would assume is a classic mid-19th-century Greek Revival edifice surprisingly was commissioned in 1921 and completed in 1937. Initially conceived as a war memorial, the building was designed by Thomas Manly Deane and now serves at the reading room for postgraduate studies. Like his predecessors, Deane picks forms and details from The Antiquities of Athens and combines them into a cunningly original composition. The entablature and piers, of course, are adaptions of Stuart and Revett’s depiction of the Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus, a tiny structure built into the side of the Acropolis and destroyed in the 19th century (Figure 35). Unique to the monument are the frieze with its series of olive leaf wreathes and the continuous row of guttae beneath the taenia. (Figure 36) These details have been reproduced in countless ways, including on the Lincoln Memorial and on various Dublin town house doorways.[viii]  At Trinity College, Deane applies more compact wreathes and has Roman-style tapered guttae instead of the cylindrical Greek-style guttae. The cornice and pier capital closely follow the original.

The point of this survey of Irish details is to demonstrate that the multiplicity of classical motifs around us are largely adapted from published images, many of which can be traced to ancient sources, some long gone. It is interesting to observe how architects and artisans have fashioned their own interpretations of these details. Few are exact copies and some combine elements from more than one source. Moreover, noteworthy is the impact of Stuart and Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens on the architecture of Ireland, and indeed much of the Western World.  Fortunately, nearly all of the treatises and pattern books that provided design material for architects and builders of past centuries in Ireland and elsewhere are now available in inexpensive reprint. We hope that contemporary practitioners of classical and traditional architecture can make use of these invaluable works much as did their predecessors.

Disclaimer: I am no expert on Irish architecture. I welcome corrections or additional information on any of the material, observations, or assumptions stated in this article.


[i] The porticos had fallen off the Tower of the Winds when surveyed by Stuart and Revett. They reconstructed the capitals and entablature from fragments found in excavation.
[ii]
See “Tower of the Winds Order”, Classical Comments, ICAA Classicist Blog, November 1, 2010.
[iii]
The structure is now identified as the Temple of Hercules Victor.
[iv]
The Ilissus River is now largely covered over.
[v]
The crown molding had disappeared from the temple by the time it was recorded by Stuart and Revett. They drew it in lightly to indicate that the form is conjectural.
[vi]
The Antiquities of Athens, Volume II, p. 18.
[vii]
Parallel of the Classical Orders of Architecture, Compiled and edited with an introduction by Donald M. Rattner, (Acanthus Press, 1998), plate 93.
[viii]
See “The Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus,” Classical Comments, ICAA Classicist Blog, March 2, 2011.

Posted by Calder on | 3 Comments

A Message from Paul Gunther

Dear Friends,

The trust extended by you in the course of the last decade of service to the Institute has given me the strength and encouragement to help shape and inform a future path for our unique and multi-faceted educational enterprise. After the 2002 conglomeration of Classical America and the Institute of Classical Architecture, sustaining and applying the classical tradition in architecture, design, and their allied arts is a mission your support and participation has made possible. The results prove it. I have worked to advance our strategic goals alongside a remarkable and increasingly national board of directors, under the successive chairmanship of three of America’s leading contemporary classicists. The catalytic confidence of our late treasurer, Chris Brown, and, above all, our co-founder and chairman emeritus, the late Arthur Ross, set the standard from the start.

The advent of the chapter blueprint and evolving partnerships signify best such well-considered growth. The network of these chapters now number 16 with others in formation. Such regional application of our educational intent is an achievement in which all must take abiding pride. The recent second annual National Curriculum Conference with its purpose of spreading instructional expertise is a direct outgrowth of the countrywide engagement that the Chapters represent.

It is with these accomplishments in mind that I have decided after these ten years of service that the moment is right for me to resign my post as president. I announce it today with this message, sent as it is with full senses of gratitude and future promise. I will depart August 31, 2013.

The goals I first set for myself in generous concert with those like you who make our work possible have been accomplished. And despite my love and appreciation for the varied duties that define my days along with such an eager and creative staff, the time is right for new leadership to embark with a strategic imperative comparable to that with which I was entrusted. Change is a vital force for any modern organization competing today in the marketplace of ideas and affirmative civic intent and I herald it knowing that the best days of the ICAA are still to come.

In these remaining weeks I look forward to seeing and speaking further with many of you who have made my work joyfully possible. My ties here will endure as a measure of satisfaction with a job well done. It is precisely this spirit that will lead me forward in the next phase of my career, dedicated as it will always be to forging a better world through culture, design, and a unifying humanistic impulse cutting across generations.

Meanwhile, I can report that the board will announce shortly the composition of a search committee that will lead the ICAA to find a new chief executive.

With warm regards and anticipation of future associations ahead,

Paul Gunther Signature

Paul Gunther
ICAA President

Posted by Paul on | Leave a comment

A Special Presentation with Anne Fairfax in Hawaii

On Tuesday, July 16, Hawaii was host to one of the Institute’s first lectures in the area. The event was held at La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls on the slopes of Diamond Head Crater.  Many thanks to Peter Vincent Architects for sponsoring the event, and to Max Guenther and Brent Shore for organizing. We look forward to an increased presence in Hawaii!

Designed in the style of the Villa La Pietra in Tuscany, the former Walter Dillingham estate was completed in 1922.  From the start, it was the social center of Honolulu’s wealthy and famous with visitors including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Walt Disney.  In 1969 the estate was purchased by Hawaii School for Girls, an independent, college preparatory school for girls grades 6 through 12.

Tuesday’s lecture was given by La Pietra alum, Anne Fairfax of Fairfax & Sammons Architects. Speaking to an audience representing several top architectural firms, as well as art and historic preservation organizations, Ms. Fairfax delivered an engaging lecture about the work of their eponymous firm, now in its 21st year. Drawing inspiration from the wellspring of classical traditions, the firm has developed a body of work that reflects the theories of proportion and order that have been passed down through scholarship and practice for generations. Fairfax & Sammons Architects are the recipients of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art’s 32nd annual Arthur Ross Award for Excellence in the Classical Tradition in the category of Architecture. Anne Fairfax was a trustee of Classical America and co-founder of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in 1992, and later became Board Director and Board Chairman of the ICAA for three years. We are fortunate to have Ms. Fairfax as an instructor in the ICAA curriculum.

Posted by Richard McGovern on | Leave a comment

THE NEW LIBRARY

IN PRAISE OF ZEPSA INDUSTRIES: EMBLEM OF ARTISAN EXCELLENCE and INSTITUTE STALWART NATIONWIDE

by Paul Gunther

ICAA Library

Those passing by the Institute’s national headquarters office and teaching facilities, centered on the foremost asset of the Henry Hope Reed Classroom (honoring as it does our late co-founder and scholar in residence), will now discover there a beautiful new library. It is a dream come true after a decade of strategic intent to amass a gathering of worthy titles under the determined watch of the Publications and Education Committees and especially Fellow and prolific reader, bibliophile, architectural designer, Seth Weine.

Teachers and students use it daily alongside our members and others in need of our distinctive research collections. And while not a circulating library, there is always ample room in situ for reading and research and photocopying to the full extent our rules sanction it. Come by soon and often. The online library catalog, composed by our consultant archivist, Nora Reilly, leads the way and allows the prompt accessible inventorying of newly acquired donations as deemed fitting. Armed with this electronic catalog, Seth and his fellow instructors are on the eager lookout for titles conspicuously absent whether old or new which fill the gaps of our academic mission. Inquiries and donations are welcome in the latter instance when meeting our defined teaching needs.

ICAA Library; Henry Hope Reed Classroom

The library furnishing of the Reed Classroom fits gracefully in the overall room, redone so magnificently by the pro bono skill and devotion of John Flower and the able team of his namesake contracting company. It is not surprising that so many turn his way for the most demanding construction jobs on the boards these days. And it does so following the pro bono designs of Richard Cameron, Thomas Jayne, and Andy Taylor.

Rising to the generous occasion called for in building them with keen eyes and careful hands informed by two generations of experience, training, and state-of-the–art tools grounded in traditional application was Zepsa Industries. We salute them for both this work and for the example they have set since their founding in 1981 in their enduring home base of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The work of Zepsa Industries

Eduard Zepsa landed here from the former Yugoslavia with his emigrating family, whose father patriarch, Karl, taught him the trade secrets of fine architectural and furniture woodwork. His shop-built curved staircases and Eduard’s early concentration on custom fireplace mantles forged a family business that now covers a broad range of interior millwork for homes, apartments, and boats alike. Now add to it the millwork centerpiece of our nerve center of contemporary classicism, an elegant repository itself of classical inflection built by the artisans who know and care about doing it right.

Zepsa now features national reach with satellites in New York and South Florida, allowing for regional project management, full engineering planned drawings, architectural layouts for framers and related tradesmen, custom finishes, and ongoing supervision and client support.  The contributed library here proves the efficacy of such full service enlivened above all by an underlying excellence and the attendant pride it duly spawns among the assigned team.

The Institute boasts this example and now invites its legacy to serve our constituents in the spirit of discovery describing why we exist.  PWG

Posted by Paul on | Leave a comment

Announcing the BAA Class of 2014

Paul Gunther

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

I am pleased to announce the Beaux-Arts Atelier Class of 2014, whose student members will enliven the third annual offering of our full-time, year-long classical design atelier. As you know, it unfolds beginning just after Labor Day here in the Henry Hope Reed Classroom amidst its illuminating teaching collections. To date there are 12 students from eight states enrolled: nine immersed in the first-year curriculum; and three others returning for a second year of intensive studio engagement. Two have experience at the ICAA’s Grand Central Academy of Art, revealing as their acceptance does the cross-disciplinary approach that drives our mission thanks to the generous support from those like you.

In alphabetical order they are:

1) James Baird, Salt Lake City, Utah: a recent graduate in history from the University of Utah presently working as marketing associate for Historical Arts & Casting, whose president Robert Baird is James’s father and founding president of the Utah Chapter.

2) James Diaz, Bronx, New York: a graduate in experimental theater from NYU returning for a second year of intensive study as he continues as landscape designer and groundskeeper of the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan.

3) Mark Hendricks, Kempton, Pennsylvania: also returning for a second design studio year encouraged as he is by the work he has done in recent months for Les Métalliers Champenois, after demonstrating exceptional aptitude and motivation descending from the example of his father Steve at his renowned Historic Doors workshop.

4) Stephen Kivimaki, Boston, Massachusetts: entering the Atelier fortified by his current work as student teacher at Boston’s Academy of Realist Art, he studied architecture at the Boston Architecture Center and engineering at Northeastern University and participated in the last ICAA Winterim Intensive program.

5) Joseph Loomis, Woodside, New York: currently enrolled at our Grand Central Academy of Art he pursues his interest in architecture as integral to all the fine arts towards a goal of better understanding the structural and technical systems underlying the Western tradition at its essential core.

6) Chris McKenna, Red Bank, New Jersey: an independent preservation consultant and graphic designer seeking to extend his art degree from Monmouth University with a fuller appreciation of the structure and history underlying classical design as a cornerstone of future excellence across disciplines and mutually-reliant applications.

7) Emily Neyman, Goshen, Kentucky: a degree in interior design from the University of Cincinnati has fostered her career as decorator, including presently for the Hearts for Kenya medical clinic near Nairobi, and spawned a keen impulse to create fine classical interiors in a New York-based career.

8) Aldo Paino, Miami, Florida: the promise of greater manual skills and practice principles builds upon his 2013 B. Arch degree from the University of Miami towards the applied classical concentration he favors at this formative stage of rigorous study.

9) Marileny Peralta, New York, New York: the third student returning for the second year studio following an NYU degree in urban design and architectural studies in a quest to design contextual work for affordable communities characterized by classical integrity.

10) Jose Quezada, Delray Beach, Florida: comes from Andrews University following completion of his architecture degree with an eagerness to supplement his studies and world travels as an enlisted Army soldier with a fuller mastering of the classical vocabulary in both theory and practice.

11) Mason Sullivan, Jersey City, New Jersey: as instructor in the sculpture studio of the Grand Central Academy of Art, including courses for the Atelier itself in ornament, relief and form, inspires a desire for a deeper understanding of the essential relationship of sculpture and classical design in a career as artist.

12) Christopher Weeks, South Euclid, Ohio: inspired by the Institute’s Winterim and the example of his notable Beaux-Arts trained grandfather, architect Harry E. Weeks, he extends his recent architecture degree from Kent State University to feed his appetite and aptitude for the classical language as career cornerstone.

Again for this new Class, precious scholarship support comes from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust, Les Métalliers Champenois, Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center, Røros Foundation, and Taconic Builders. Recipients are matched accordingly and in each case bear the namesake scholar moniker with according pride. We salute all who make this subsidy possible on behalf of the students and the overall momentum for contemporary classical education which the Atelier, like the Grand Central Academy of Art, has helped us build. The second annual National Curriculum Conference in Newport, Rhode Island upcoming this weekend (watch for blog posting) with nearly every chapter on hand is a fine case in point as is the new classical design studio offered in the Masters Degree program of the School of Architecture at the University of Colorado, Denver.

When you are next nearby please plan to stop by to meet them in the course of their rigorous program. Their progress is palpable throughout the year.

In the intervening interval, enjoy the summer. As this monthly greeting hints, the fall upcoming will be a dense and rich one across the country.

P.S. The deadline for the 2014 Rieger Graham Prize our architectural and design arts affiliated fellowship at the American Academy in Rome will fall on November 1, 2013. Details will follow but information is posted on the website now. Plan ahead and spread the word. We are pleased that trustee Suzanne Tucker will serve as chair of the jury for this unique 2014 travel study opportunity, which ranks high among the Institute’s many unique programs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Click here to subscribe to the ICAA e-newsletter and other announcements.

Posted by Paul on | Leave a comment