The Winter Intensive group standing outside the ICAA’s building to admire nearby architecture
Among the ICAA’s most impactful and enduring education models is its Intensive Program in Classical Architecture – an 8 day course of study that introduces participants to the ICAA’s core curriculum through coursework in the classical orders, composition, proportion, drafting, observational drawing, and the literature of classical architecture.
Students at a Private Club in New York
On January 7th, the ICAA began its Winter Intensive 2017 session featuring a group of bright students, incredible instructors, and peculiar New York winter weather. On the first day, students were welcomed by a light dusting of snow and a lively brunch social. The day began with the program’s introduction lecture on Architectural Literacy which was presented by Calder Loth. Calder also led the subsequent walking tour to the University Club of New York and lectured for the remainder of the day.
The class completes a drawing exercise in the ICAA’s building
The subsequent days were packed with lectures and classes led by instructors that catered to a range of learning styles. The instructors took advantage of the rich classical details in and around the ICAA’s headquarters: students enjoyed creating measured drawings in the hallways of the landmark building The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York. The material covered throughout the course of the Intensive ranged from Observational Drawing: Light and Shade, to lectures on the Elements of Classical Architecture.
Students hard at work during one of the week’s many drawing courses
The students were both focused on their work and eager to become better acquainted with one another during breaks and lunch hour. The diverse group hailed from all across the U.S., from Denver, to Miami, to Atlanta, each coming from different vocational backgrounds as students and established professionals, practicing interior design and other disciplines in addition to architecture.
A few students find a good spot to work on an exercise
Near the end of the week, the students were tasked with a final project –to create plans for a new pavilion in Park Slope’s Grand Army Plaza. By the final day, each work was hung on the wall to be presented to a distinguished panel of architects and designers.
The panel attending a final presentation
After the panel completed their review, the group went upstairs to enjoy a goodbye brunch with them at the Coffee House, a private social club. Students had the chance to continue their conversations with the panel and toast to the success of the 2017 Winter Intensive. The ICAA truly enjoyed hosting such a spectacular Winter Intensive session and would like to thank the inspirational students and dedicated instructors that make the Winter Intensive a rewarding and enduring program. The ICAA also extends its sincere thanks to LaPolla Designs & Inspired Flooring for their support of student scholarships to the Winter Intensive, and to our classroom sponsors, Uberto Construction and Rusk Restorations Inc.
The ICAA is pleased to announce Jon Brogie as the winner of the 2017 Alma Schapiro Award. Jon received his Bachelor’s degree in Painting from Arizona State University in 2011. Inspired by the rigorous training of the growing atelier movement, grounded in traditional drawing and painting techniques, he moved to New York City to study under Jacob Collins at the Grand Central Atelier. After graduating in 2016 with a focus in painting, he is now a resident artist at the Grand Central Atelier in Long Island City.
Portrait of Pat, Jon Brogie
The Alma Schapiro Prize will give Jon the opportunity to “study the techniques of the great figurative artists of the classical tradition, as well as the lexicon of visual language which they used to translate an idea or narrative into a composition.” According to Jon, “This vocabulary encompasses technique, symbolic representation, composition conventions, and many other considerations.”
The Alma Schapiro Prize is a biannual affiliated fellowship at the American Academy in Rome for distinguished American students or professionals with demonstrable commitment to the classical tradition and its contemporary practice in painting and sculpture. Its purpose is to advance the career of the artist recipient and to foster the continuity of knowledge of the classical tradition as a vital aspect of contemporary culture around the globe.
When you consider the process of designing and building a house today most likely you don’t imagine flipping through a catalogue and selecting a ready-made model. It’s amusing to imagine that people once shopped for architectural plans as we do today for gift baskets and linens. Richard Cheek explained the mail-order home phenomenon in addition to many other stages of domestic literature. Cheek’s lecture covered material from his book, Selling the Dwelling: The Books that Built America’s Houses, 1775-2000, chronicling the evolution of the domestic architectural design book.
Cheek is a collector of architectural and domestic books in addition to being a historian on the topic. Many of the books mentioned in his lecture were on display for students to peruse and get a firsthand feel for how the books have changed over time. In their early stages, architectural books were designed for builders and craftsman. The books included sections, elevations, and plans as well as technical drawings of features. Such books allowed people to pick and choose individual elements for their homes, which a local builder could then create without the aid of an architect.
Richard Cheek speaking
Cheek spoke to the incredible influence the builder-oriented reference books had on the course of American architecture as they enabled the development of many self-made architects. American architecture books also reflected the patriotic desire for a national style of building to emerge that differentiated American homes from European homes. The selling point of many American books highlighted the American-ness of its contents and the fact that the designs were adapted specifically for American soil.
The lecture covered the observation of trends in these books such as Greek orders, English Gothic, and Tudor. The most important shift in the publishing of architecture books was the perception of who the audience was for such volumes. In the 1840s, the books began to cater to clients rather than builders, and they started to resemble guides. These guides include color images of the home from various angles with the intent to encourage the client to imagine him or herself living in such a picturesque home. The technical drawings were eventually dropped and the guides began to look more similar to the coffee table books we are accustomed to today.
To further glamorize the domestic architectural books additional frills were added, such as fine bindings, tinted lithographs, oversize dimensions, and monthly issued guides. These vanity books were designed with an upper/middle class audience in mind. Cheek pointed out that the architectural books did nothing to address the urban housing crisis, and very few guides included small homes for the average family on a laborer’s budget.
Shelter magazines emerged from the evolution of the domestic architectural book (some of which are still around today House Beautiful, for example) as did mail-order catalogues. The homes advertised in these catalogues were part of such an efficient process that every supply and material needed to build the house was already pre-cut, sitting in a warehouse, waiting to be called upon.
The ready-made home catalogs were a topic of great interest in the lively discussion that followed Cheek’s lecture. Many of the students were architects and, thus, had informed opinions about the problems inherent in Levittown-esque developments that use unvaried architectural plans and, by and large, do not require architects. The discussion raised an interesting question: if people are content living and buying cookie-cutter homes, how is the architect supposed to react? How should we deal with the contention between what the client wants and the architect’s creative integrity?
Through the lens of domestic architectural design books, Cheek offered an interesting perspective on the history of American architecture. The students were able to trace a path that saw technical elements of design married with the commercial interests.
I left Rome a few weeks ago and have now had a bit of time to absorb the three months I spent at the American Academy as part of the Rieger Graham Prize. Different from any travel or education in my past, this experience was so memorable, and I find it challenging to sum it up in a short blog. Instead, I’d like to reflect on a few themes that stayed with me throughout my time in the city.
Observing the retraced route of the Possesso
Dinners in the courtyard under the soft glow of Roman twilight, the steady roar of water from the Acqua Paola on the walk down the Janiculum, and flocks of parakeets jumping through the umbrella pines all bring back memories, but my lasting impression of the American Academy is its diverse and engaging community. The people I encountered encouraged me to become more well-rounded and to stay curious. Often, I find it too easy to get overly engrossed in a topic (usually architecture) and to lose track of other interests—and to some extent, today’s world encourages such specialization. The American Academy however, filled with great minds and texts on subjects throughout the arts and humanities, challenged this habit and asked me to search for connections across disciplines as a means of sharpening my thoughts and making them more globally applicable. Learning about the methods that archeologists use to understand a site, listening to writers describe Rome, and discussing an artist’s approach to their creative process encouraged me to develop a broader understanding of the world.
A view of Rome
This lesson tied perfectly into what is perhaps my strongest impression of Rome: the manifest presence of millennia of minds, hands, and bodies that shaped the city. In Rome, I was overwhelmed by the length of man’s impact on one place: basilicas lie buried under centuries of history, mausoleums have second and third lives as palaces and fortresses, and myths live on for generations, constantly updating to the times. To me, the city became the endorsement for our potential to create a beautiful culture through the synthesis of our experiences. In one place, I could see the impact of artists, writers, archeologists, architects, and more. I could see how their efforts worked in concert,whether intentionally or not, to make Rome the rich symphony that it is today.
Looking into the courtyard at the American Academy
Three months ago, I stepped off a jetway into Rome, primed to begin my research of a very specific topic. Over the rest of my time in the city, I felt myself subtly pulled back and asked to place my work into a broader context. Before arriving, I imagined myself buried deep in the archives of a vast library. And while my work was certainly (and happily) filled with much time in the library, I also found myself called into the city and into conversations with my colleagues. Perhaps the most lasting lesson I learned from my time was to work to be more open, inclusive, and broad-reaching in my thought.
Equestrian monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi on the Janiculum
It has been a formative and unique opportunity to be a part of such an invigorating community and to have the time to reflect while in a city as provoking as Rome. For this life-changing opportunity, I would like to thank the ICAA and the Rieger Graham Prize for their special gift.
The buzz in the air surrounding contemporary classicism is undeniable. If Architectural Digest’s latest ranking of the top 100 architects and designers is an accurate bellwether of the industry, then classicism is not only alive and well — it’s thriving across all disciplines. More than 20 of AD‘s noteworthy selections are active members or supporters of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.
A Dutchess County farmhouse designed by G.P. Schafer Architect with landscape design by Deborah Nevins (Image Source: Architectural Digest / Eric Piasecki)
Among the AD100 firms designated by the magazine as “Classicists” are traditional architectural stalwarts including ICAA member firms Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, G.P. Schafer Architect, Ike Kligerman Barkley, and Peter Pennoyer Architects. However, the ICAA even had representation among firms that AD designated as “Modernist” thanks to Sawyer | Berson, which received a Stanford White Award a couple weeks ago. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising as our members do after all engage in the contemporary practice of architecture and design, with varying degrees of classical influences.
Townhouse on East 80th Street designed by Sawyer | Berson Architecture & Landscape Architecture (Image Source: Architectural Digest / Scott Frances)
Within the AD100 is a subset of “American Beauties,” architects and designers that represent a “Classic American” style. ICAA members and supporters were well represented among this group, including: Culman & Kravis Inc., Jayne Design Studio Inc., Michael S. Smith Inc., Tucker & Marks Inc., Victoria Hagan Interiors, and of course Mark Hampton LLC. (I especially love Alexa Hampton’s family room, which is featured on architecturaldigest.com and is overflowing with classical references.) Also included on the AD100 is designer Brian McCarthy, who spoke recently during a panel discussion called “The Legacy of Parish-Hadley,” co-hosted by the ICAA and the New York School of Interior Design.
Alexa Hampton’s family room (Image Source: Architectural Digest / Scott Frances)
Earlier this month guests of the ICAA’s Private New York tour of spectacular apartments and townhouses were fortunate to visit the home of Frank de Biasi, another AD100 designer whose work also graces the cover of the magazine’s January issue. Frank recently joined the ICAA’s President’s Council, which focuses on creating scholarships to educate the next generation of classical architects and designers, among other important matters.
An ICAA Private New York Tour guest surveys the cover of Architectural Digest’s January issue, featuring the work of Frank de Biasi (Image Source: Frank de Biasi)
Frank de Biasi welcomes guests of the ICAA’s Private New York Tour into his home (Image Source: Frank de Biasi)
Steven Gambrel, an ICAA Board Member, also brings contemporary classical design to a new level. He understands the importance of proportion, but isn’t afraid to add a “daring splash of color” to any room. Also featured on the list is designer Suzanne Kasler, an active member and supporter of the ICAA’s Southeast Chapter.
Interior by S.R. Gambrel Inc. (Image Source: Architectural Digest / Eric Piasecki)
Ben Pentreath, who also appears on the AD100, is at the forefront of the next generation. A few weeks ago, AD’s dynamic new Editor in Chief, Amy Astley, and I co-hosted a lecture with Ben followed by a special dinner. Ben’s talk, which I wrote about last month, was truly inspirational, illustrating how his transformative architectural and urban designs are bringing classicism to communities today. ICAA Board Member and AD100 “Hall of Famer” Bunny Williams said the talk was one of the most stimulating she’s ever attended.
Ben Pentreath with Bunny Williams and ICAA President Peter Lyden (Image Source: Sean Zanni/PMC)
Bunny is herself a legendary tastemaker who never rests on her laurels, continuously creating and executing successful designs. I sincerely admire Bunny, who has helped to sustain and rejuvenate the classical tradition in a truly profound way.
“Hall of Fame” member, Robert A.M. Stern Architects has unlike perhaps any other firm changed the cityscape, bringing beauty and proportion to buildings of all sizes. AD describes the philosophy behind the firm’s work: “Working from a centuries-spanning playbook, Robert A.M. Stern and his associates devise personable structures that possess a masterful air of aesthetic self-assuredness.” I agree wholeheartedly.
House designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects in East Quogue, NY (Image Source: Architectural Digest / Eric Piasecki)
One of my personal passions is landscape design, and in this category the ICAA community is, again, well represented. Arne Maynard’s triumphant garden designs highlight the seamless integration between interior and exterior environment. The ICAA was honored to host a lecture with Arne last year.
A video featuring Arne Maynard at Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, England
(Video Source: Bleak House Media / Vimeo)
New York-based landscape designer and ICAA member, Deborah Nevins, is also featured on the AD100 list. Deborah’s landscapes convey architectural elements that befit the surrounding natural environment. Look no further than Gil Schafer’s Dutchess County home, Middlefield, whose beautiful landscapes were a collaboration between Gil and Deborah.
What at least 20 members of the AD100 list have in common is their dedication to the classical tradition. They serve as an inspiration to thousands of practitioners across the country who embrace proportion and beauty in their contemporary practice; they also dedicate enormous support toward the ICAA’s goal of educating more students, emerging professionals, and enthusiasts around the country who are increasingly passionate about classical architecture and design.
Thanks to our supporters, in 2016 the ICAA helped amplify the buzz surrounding classical architecture and design. In 2017, we look forward to convincing more and more people that classicism is not an artifact of the past or a fleeting trend, but an enduring element of our future.
The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and the allied arts, is pleased to announce that Russell Windham has been elected Chairman of the ICAA Board of Directors. Russell serves as Co-Chair of the ICAA’s Strategic Planning Committee, and he has served as ICAA Treasurer, Chair of the organization’s Finance Committee, and President of the Texas Chapter.
Russell Windham is a founding partner of Curtis & Windham Architects, which was established in Houston in 1992 and received the ICAA’s Arthur Ross Award for its work in architecture in 1999. His firm’s monograph, A Vision of Place: The Work of Curtis & Windham Architects, was published in December 2016. A graduate of Texas Tech University, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Memorial Park Conservancy.
Andrew Cogar has also been elected to the role of Vice Chair of the ICAA Board of Directors. He serves as Co-Chair of the ICAA’s Strategic Planning Committee, and he has served as Chair of the ICAA’s Governance Committee. Andrew was named Trustee Emeritus of the organization’s Southeast Chapter.
Andrew Cogar is President of Historical Concepts, an Arthur Ross Award winning firm for its work in architecture. Andrew was a founding member of the Atlanta chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He has also been recognized by the Atlanta design and business community, selected as one of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles “20 Under 40” and the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40” program. He is an active member of the Design Leadership Network and is a sought after speaker on the topic of traditional architecture and design.
Russell Windham and Andrew Cogar will succeed Mark Ferguson (who currently serves as the ICAA Board Chairman) and Barbara Sallick (current ICAA Board Vice Chair). Mark and Barbara will both remain on the ICAA Board of Directors.