I selected Old Charleston, because the book cover was visually appealing but without knowing anything about the contents except that it contained a collection of plates, which were likewise graphically appealing. The book is signed and numbered (928/1500) by Charles W. Smith.
Quickly looking through the plates, (whose titles and captions were not placed with them), I saw the architecture or cityscapes and the play between void, line, and solid. And reflected on why this book might be in our Special Collections.
Reading the preface by Charles W. Smith and Herbert Ravenel Sass’s “Introduction,” however, recontextualized the plates for me.
Smith writes of his experience depicting Charleston:
And I found that all I had read and all I heard was true. As I walked the quiet streets, passed the formal gardens, the gateways, and the attractive homes, I realized that these old houses grew as an external expression of the life that was led in the leisurely days of the old-time South- a life of ease, grace, and dignity. (preface)
Sass writes of his city:
Passing that question by, the fact remains that Charleston and the Carolina plantations, which formed with her almost a city-state, were for thirty years or more the leaders of a determined effort to to preserve an ideal which was finally submitted to the trial of war, and in that trial was defeated and expelled from the American scheme of things. And now, after a long time and a long experience of the opposite and victorious ideal, the things in and of Charleston which appear most handsome are things that have come down from that earlier time and that earlier philosophy. That is a fact which surely must have some significance and may even be of great practical importance in face of the problems confronting us today. (Introduction)
These remarks made me keenly aware that this work is a reflection of the culture (the time and place) in which it was produced and must be examined within that context. Returning the plates, I began to reflect more carefully and critically about the representation of Charleston. Whose Charleston was it? Who or what had been included or excluded? Whose point of view was present?
If you would like to see more of Charles W. Smith’s work, the Richmond History Center has additional works and a brief biography of the artist available on its website.
Reckoning with Colin Rowe is a collection of essays or interviews regarding his influence. Robert Maxwell, Anthony Vidler, Peter Eisenman, O. Mathias Ungers, Leon Krier, Rem Koolhaas, Alan Colquhoun, Robert Slutzky, Bernhard Hoesli, and Bernard Tschumi all make contributions. According to Emmanuel Petit, the guiding theme of the essays is as follows: …each one of them intersected with Rowe’s ideas and initially used them as a stepping-stone, only to then resolutely swerve from his ideological orbit and create new concepts for the discipline. (Petit, “Rowe After Colin Rowe,” 5)
Robert Slutzky, for example, recounts the course of his relationship with Rowe, including their appointment to the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin. Slutzky narrates:
The worldly problems just mentioned were somehow bracketed, enabling us to put our entire efforts into this pedagogical change without having to act on problems that were much more palpable in the big cities in America. In the big cities, the newspaper headline was always in front of you and the anxiety was always there. Austin was pacific, sedated, and we could concentrate more clearly. That was an important part of the Texas experiment. This was the frame that made our experiments possible. (Robert Slutzky in conversation with Emmanuel Petit, “To Reason with One’s Vision,” 116)
For whatever reason, I am particularly attracted to the publications associated with the 2014 Biennale. This work contains essays by Philip Ursprung, Alex Lehnerer, Savvas Ciriaidis, and Sandra Oehy, Quinn Latimer, Irene Meissner, Uta Hassler and Korbinian Kainz, and a photo essay of the pavilion by Bas Princen. Ursprung writes of Ciriacidis and Lehnerer’s pavilion:
Lehnerer and Ciriacidis have created a situation where we can experience first-hand the tension between two spatial regimes and where, in that exhibition context, we can cross from one temporality into another. (Philip Ursprung, “The Phantom of Modernism: The Chancellor’s Bungalow in the Belly of the German Pavilion,” 14)
Frank D. Welch recounts his journey of becoming to include his childhood, education, travels, and the people he met along the way. A major influences was O’Neil Ford, who with Arch Swank designed Little Chapel in the Woods, the current subject of the exhibit. He writes of Ford:
Most important for me, I would, from the exposure to Ford, become an architect with a template: a model that guided me. From him, I learned how to put building parts together in a direct, logical manner…. Throughout my career, I would repeatedly think to myself, “How would Neil do it?” (pg. 79)
The work is highly illustrative with personal photos and his built works. I enjoy his descriptions, anecdotes, and honest and straightforward tone. Welch writes:
I was too young and eager and anxious to analyze or foresee anything. But in retrospect, there was a rough symmetry to it: I had lived over a quarter century elsewhere in Texas and would, with my family, spend another twenty-five years in that flat, empty part of the state. It is an area that possess its own special, minimalist beauty and hold on the imagination. “Wear out one pair of shoes,” they say, “and you’re a native.” (pg. 99)
Brantley Hightower both graduated from and taught at the University of Texas Austin, School of Architecture. He is a founding partner of HiWorks. He was also asked to speak on our current exhibit, To Better Know a Building: Little Chapel in the Woods.
Hightower graphically represents the forms and documents the history of the Central Texas Courthouses from 1870 to 1970, Kendall County Courthouse to Zavala County Courthouse. I rather liked one his concluding remarks:
As compelling as the courthouses of central Texas may be, they are products of a time and a culture that no longer exists. In the century between when construction began on the courthouse in Kendall County and when the new courthouse in Zavala County opened its doors, Texas evolved from a patchwork of poor and widely dispersed agricultural communities into a wealthy, high-tech economy centered in a few sprawling metropolises. This transition was not painless. The conflicting values of the state’s rural past and its urban future continue to spur cultural as well as legislative debate. (pg. 147-148)
Hannah Stamier recently blogged about the Bon Marché and Émile Zola on ARTstor’s blog, highlighting images from their collection- which I remembered when I happened across some books on a similar topic. ARTstor is of course an excellent resource; however, I would also encourage you to explore the works in Special Collections on department stores and store fronts, if this topic is of interest. I pulled four books today as examples—
English Shop-Fronts is both a history of the building type and advice for designing anew. The first chapter discusses the history of early shop fronts, while chapter two, modern ones. The final chapter is a discussion of the practical aspects of the front: materials, glazing, lettering, lighting, and entrances, for example. Dan includes 52 plates, primarily from England and Scotland.
Geo. L. Mesker & Co. Store Fronts. Evansville, IN: The Company, 1911.
Unlike the other works that I selected today, Store Fronts is a catalog, produced by Mesker & Co. of Evansville, Indiana, from which a proprietor could select the design of a store front or other architectural details and materials. The catalog includes designs for concrete, brick, and galvanized iron fronts along with cornices, stamped steel ceilings, and elevators.
Curious about the company itself, I found the website, Mesker Brothers, maintained by Darius Bryjka of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The site includes a discussion about the facades, the company catalogs, and documentation of the store fronts by state.
Following a brief introduction, Modern French Shop-Fronts and their Interiors consists of 54 large plates. Herbst writes:
Our opinion is that a shop front should be sober and be composed almost exclusively of a dressing of its own pillars, or of a covering which dissimulates blinds, gratings, and lighting fixtures. It should, however, provide ample space for the sign and lettering which are important from the advertising point of view, yet everything should be subordinated to the merchandise itself- which should occupy the largest space and be displayed under a judicious lighting arrangement so as to focus the attention of the public. (Introduction)
For an example of Herbst’s work, see plate 17 from Magasins & Boutiques.
Magasins & Boutiques is a collection of 36 plates of store fronts and interiors in Paris. Lacroix includes stores, boutiques, shops, and restaurants or bars. A very brief description accompanies the plates along with the name or the architect or decorator; however, dates have not been provided.
Mostafavi and Binet examine with an architect’s eye the eight London churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor built after 1711. With a brief introduction, the focus is squarely on the churches themselves. They include historical drawings and maps, short descriptions, black and white photographs, and “a series of newly commissioned drawings.” (pg. 13) Mohsen Mostafavi writes:
It is through the precision of these photographs that the churches, these methodical imaginings of the architect, are represented as architecture and as construction. You look up and see the way in which the parts of St George’s, Bloomsbury come together, its various geometries resolved and juxtaposed against the columnar ziggurat of the spire rising above the building. You see how a column touches the ground, how a building turns a corner, and how the plasticity of a wall is developed. (pg. 13)
Steps make uneven terrain convenient for humans. They are pathways and destinations for climbing and descending, for sitting and standing. As pathways, steps create processional routes toward and within cities and sanctuaries; as destinations, they serve as grandstands for viewing and participating in communal events. Some steps imply movement, while others suggest static behavior. In fact, the dimensions of steps express a direct relation to body posture, so that we can often tell whether their users were sitting, standing, or walking. By examining monumental steps in ancient Greek architecture, we can derive behavior from architectural form, and trace interactions between human activities and the built environment. (pg. 3)
Hollinshead arranges her study chronologically by century, to include the fifth to second centuries. She also includes an appendix addressing Hellenistic Italy. The book is arranged in three parts: the lenses with which Hollinshead uses to examine steps (“physical, theoretical, and contextual”); the chronological discussion; and the catalogue and plates. (pg. 7)
Martin Bressani has written a new and rather extensive biography of Viollet-le-Duc. He argues:
Yet, like Proust, he [Viollet-le-Duc] sought to fuse into some redemptive unity the disparate fragments of a temporal and cultural dislocation. Through a dynamic identification process, he summoned up his own memories to re-embody his country’s past. The present work seeks to unravel this process. It traces Viollet-le-Duc’s development, mapping the attitudes he adopted toward the past in sequence, attitudes that formed the stages of a self-reconstruction. Through his life journey, we follow the route by which the technological subject was born out of nineteenth-century historicism. (pg. xxiv-xxv)
His work is arranged in five parts: Restoration and Loss; The Gothic Reborn; The Gothic Disseminated; The Gothic as Will; and Transgressions into Modernity.
This week I ended up in a section on Bungalows. I thought we might explore the diversity of examples and definitions provided by the various publications. Starting with the definition provided by the Penguin, which defines bungalows thusly:
A detached, single-storey house in its own plot of land. The term first occurs in 1784 as an anglicization of the Hindu word ‘bangla‘ and was given to lightly constructed dwellings with verandas erected for English officials in mid-C19 Indian cantonments and hill stations. Later the term was used for similarly light, simply dwellings built as second homes in England and America. (pg. 77)
Percival T. Harrison has a rather lengthy definition of bungalow. He too traces its origin back to India and like the Penguin’s definition allows for diversity. Harrison does, however, narrow the field at least in terms of the types of bungalows he intends to present:
No one would entertain for a moment the idea of erecting rows or even pairs of bungalows, because by so doing their principal charm, as well as their distinctive character, would be destroyed.
Bungalows costitute a distinct type of residence in themselves: they are erected for the most part at the seaside, or in the country in positions chosen for the quality of the air, or for the recreative facilities or other attractions, and it is an added pleasure if the site commands views of white cliff and restless sea, of verdure-clad hills or winding river, where, for a time at least, the rattle of the motor ‘bus may be forgotten, together with the many other obtrusive indications of the triumph of machinery, indispensable as such may be in these days of rush and hurry. (pg. 2-3)
Henry L. Wilson provides a brief introduction to bungalows. He writes:
The Bungalow is a radical departure from the older styles of cottage, not only in outward appearance, but in inside arrangement. The straight, cold entrance hall and stiff, prim, usually darkened parlor have no place in it. Entrance is usually into a large living room- the room where the family gathers, and in which the visitor feels at once the warm, homelike hospitality. Everything in this room should suggest comfort and restfulness. The open fireplace and low, broad mantel, a cozy nook or corner, or a broad window seat, are all means to the desired end. Bookcases or shelves may be fitted into convenient places, and ceiling beams add an air of homely quaintness which never grows tiresome. (pg. 4)
The rest of the book is a catalog from which to purchase plans for your very own bungalow.
Writing for an American audience, Henry H. Saylor attempts to define the characteristics of the bungalow in this country. Saylor argues that a bungalow must have a piazza and “at least one big fireplace in the living-room.” (pg. 11, 16-17) He argues further:
From the outside it is almost impossible to tell whether the building is a bungalow with dormers ventilating the upper part of its living-room or its attic, or whether it is a house. The final test, however, is in plan. Where the main sleeping-rooms are included on the first floor with the living-room, dining room and service quarters, the building is a bungalow. Where the sleeping-quarters are for the most part on the second floor, the building is a house instead. (pg. 45)
He identifies ten types of bungalows found in the U.S., to include: the Pasadena & Los Angeles type, the patio bungalow of Southern California, the Swiss Châlet, the Adirondack, the seacoast bungalow, and the Chicago type.
Randall R. Phillips acknowledges as well that bungalows come in many forms and serve many purposes; however, he ties his examples to class:
The plan of the bungalow will necessarily vary a good deal, according to the particular site on which it is proposed to be built, the use to which it is to be put, and the number of occupants…. Similarly, as the precise definition of the word “bungalow” as a one-storey house would include both the country cottager’s dwelling and the lodge keeper’s house, we should here have quite another arrangement of plan. But my interpretation of the bungalow in this book is expressly limited to the needs of one class- that middle class upon whose shoulders every new burden is thrust. (pg. 9)
No precise definition is provided for bungalows. Rather, the introduction provides advice about building a properly designed weekend home, whether cottage, house or bungalow. Hugh Casson writes:
The book is intended for those who could not endure the murk and confinement of a mediæval cot, even if they could find one going cheaply, and for those who prefer a home simply and directly planned to fit in with the informal life of a week-end party. For them, the only solution is to build, and they will find the excitement well worth the inevitable trouble and delay. (pg. 8)
The rest of the book is arranged by type: houses & cottages, foreign examples, and bungalows. The examples, included by the editor, are recent constructions, designed by architects. The example below is classified as a bungalow.
Like Henry L. Wilson’s book, this publication is also a catalog of plans for bungalows that was distributed by Amos D. Bridge’s Sons of Hazardville, Conn. The company sold lumber, building supplies, and agricultural implements. This catalog was actually the one that inspired me to write the post. The houses remind me very much of my grandparents’ house in the midwest, which I would never have classified as a bungalow. In fact “The Crosby” is nearly the exact plan of their house.
Are some of these examples more successful as bungalows than others, or align more closely to your idea of a bungalow? What do you think and why?
Fleming, John, Hugh Honour, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. 5th edition. London: Penguin, 1999.
The word ‘route’ is a contraction of the Latin phrase viarupta. Via means ‘road’, while rupta comes from the verb rumpere, ‘to break open’. A route is a road that is broken open, opened, cleared, freed, forced, or paved. A route is the result of an act of violence- rupture. The route carves its way into the landscape. The route breaks open the world. (pg. 11)
The authors identify three archetypes of routes: procession, distribution, and migration. They create further classifications in each archetype. Procession contains pilgrimage, parade, course, stroll, and patrol; distribution- trade route, rounds, scavenger route, smuggling route; and migration- emigration, trek, commute, journey, flight, deportation. They define each classification and then examine these types in relation to the N16 in Flanders. Finally, the authors explore case studies for each of the archetypes.
Monolith Controversies is the title of the Chilean exhibition for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale as well as the name of the corresponding publication. The Chilean exhibit was curated by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola.
According to Germán Guerrero Pavez, Ambassador, Director of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Chile:
Chile is represented by Monolith Controversies, a project by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola based on an original panel produced by the KPD factory, of Soviet origin, which used to operate in the city of Quilpué. The panel contains a unique, symbolic and historical value, as President Salvador Allende signed the wet concrete when inaugurating the plant in 1972. The fate of this panel, and the way it was re-signified during the subsequent dictatorship, as well as its current status as a ruin of modernity, is telling of the history of prefabricated housing in Chile and in the world, which is narrated from within such a basic support for construction: a neutral panel, whose reading the curators leave open to the public. (introductory material)
The book contains a series of essays and photo essays connected to the exhibit and the history of the KPD & panel.
Since I have not been able to post the last two Fridays, I am over sharing today! There is no theme that connects my selections- just things that struck my fancy. As I have noted before, I rely on serendipity – I browse but rarely with a focused intention. I think it unlikely that I would have found these works starting with the catalog.
I was rather struck by graphic print on the cover. Berlepsch-Valendas documented the domestic architecture of Bournville and Port Sunlight, England near Birmingham and Liverpool, respectively. The text is written in German, so my ability to engage with it is limited. He includes photographs and plans of the towns. The second half of the work is the real treat. There are twenty plates with drawings documenting the architecture Berslepsch-Valendas encountered. The attention to detail is quite lovely.
Again the cover caught my eye. I rather liked the graphic representations of the gardens, both on the cover and the plates within, and endpapers.
Rose Haig Thomas writes:
A FLAT stone garden costs not a little trouble and, if far from stone quarries, not a little money to make. But the reward is great, for it is a means of growing many tiny plants that would be hidden in the herbaceous border, and lost in a rock garden. In the stone garden each plant grows by itself, and thus its ways and habit of growth can be so much better observed, for there one may wander and enjoy the companionship of plants at those seasons of the year when in our damp climate the lawn is objectionable with the mists and heavy dews of autumn and winter. (pg. 7)
Again the text is written in German; however, the documentation of the hotels and the natural landscape is quite useful. Prokop included drawings- sections, elevations, plans, details, and perspectives- and photographs, both of the structures and the dramatic views of the mountains. The work would be quite useful for those interested in nineteenth-century hotels. Many of the hotels are of the rustic lodge variety; however, some are more classically inspired.
Someone carefully collected the press releases and reviews of the publication and pasted them into this book. He hand wrote page numbers and a table of contents and marked in pencil sections of the reviews, which primarily date from 1908-1912. In an inside pocket, the collector stashed a few other related items, including a handmade mock-up of the title page. There is no record of the creator of the scrapbook.
Curious about the publication itself, I found a two volume set published in 1911. Our copy came to us with the Ayres and Ayres archive. On the inside cover, a couple of quick sketches were drawn, which is always a favorite find.
Our current To Better Know a Building Exhibit on Little Chapel in the Woods by Ford and Swank is up until August 31, but we at the library and archives have already started thinking about the next exhibit. And we need your input!
If you enjoy the series, please do vote. Voting is open until Friday May 8, 2015 with two options. Either stop by the Reading Room and cast a paper ballot or pop over to the digital survey.
Here are the choices for the fall exhibit:
Geraldine Building, 1891, New York City
Blackstone Theater, 1910, Chicago
UT Hogg Auditorium, 1932, University of Texas, Austin
UT Main Building, 1934, University of Texas, Austin
Lipshy Residence, 1950, Dallas
Birtcher Residence, 1941, Los Angeles
Temple Emanu-El, 1957, Dallas
Intercontinental Motors, 1962, San Antonio
Charles Moore’s Residence, 1962, Orinda
Smith-Young Tower, 1928, San Antonio (Now, Tower Life Building)
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