Designed by Stanford White in 1904, the Italian Renaissance Revival palazzo-style Gorham Building at 390 Fifth Avenue at West 36th Street in New York.
The vertical grandiosity of the Gorham building proved a tremendous hit, and it was copied again and again all over the United States in the course of the next couple of decades.
Shorpy’s yesterday posted this photo of the Columbus Savings & Trust, built 1905.
I’m personally familiar with this style because the tallest downtown building in my hometown of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania was the Stief Drugstore Building, at the northeast corner of Main & Centre, built in the 1920s as the Shenandoah Trust Building. They tore it down in the 1970s.
I know similar buildings used to stand in Pottsville and Reading, Pennsylvania. How many more examples can readers add?
43 Hillhouse Avenue, built for Henry Farnum by architect Russell Sturgis in 1871. Victorian features were removed in 1934. It has been the home of Yale’s presidents since 1937.
If the US Department of Defense ever finds itself falling short on its spending goals, if it ever can’t find enough $750 toilet seats and $450 claw hammers to buy, DOD procurement specialists can just call up the geniuses running Yale University and ask them to lend a hand with some building or renovation project.
Building the truly verdant green Kroon Hall, erected as a kind of Taj Mahal shrine to environmentalism that cleans its own water with aquatic plants, cost only $501 a square foot. In the recent renovation, including fixing plaster, installing a “state of the art” security system, changing over from steam-heat to hot water, and generally tidying up, the stately mansion on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, once called “the most beautiful street in America” by Charles Dickens, provided for the use of the university’s president, Yale managed to spend $810 a square foot, a total of $17,000,000!
If we assume that Yale tuition and room and board is running something like 60 grand per annum these days, that means Yale could have given 283 and 1/3 students, more than half the population of one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges, a free year of college for what all this cost. The mind boggles.
Slate has a feature on the elegaic architectural photography of Ben Marcin who has made recording portraits of solitary surviving row houses in Baltimore into a personal métier.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, there are roughly 16,000 vacant homes in Baltimore that the city plans to restore or destroy to replace with green spaces and housing redevelopment over the next 10 years. Many of the homes to be torn down are row homes, built in the late 1800s.
Photographer Ben Marcin lives in a Baltimore row house with his wife, Lynn. Several years ago, Marcin, a self-taught photographer who bought his first camera at 27, began noticing lone row houses in the blighted sections of the city. “For me it was a fascinating sight: a solitary structure, well over 100 years old, sometimes 40 feet tall and less than 20 feet wide,” he wrote via email. “An amputee shorn of its former neighbors, yet still retaining architectural details and other touches, proclaiming the heights of an earlier era.”
August 1940. “Old house in Upper Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. In the background is East Mauch Chunk.” Photo by Jack Delano.
Mauch Chunk, renamed as Jim Thorpe in 1953 in an outrageous feat of Babbitry, is the county seat of Carbon County. Described as “the Switzerland of Pennsylvania,” the town lies at the eastern edge of the Anthracite Mining region. Four Molly Maguire terrorists were hanged there in 1876.
Upper Mauch Chunk is distinguished by its proximity to a mountain ridge where rock hounds can find carnotite, a radioactive mineral containing uranium. Guess how I know that.
I’ve always had a personal weakness for old, decayed houses, and for the gingerbread Victorian ornamentation found on small town Pennsylvania houses.
Pacific Standard gets the scoop from Sebastian Acker and Phil Thompson, who traveled to China to document the Copy Town phenomenon in a new book.
Hallstatt, Austria, is in China. So is the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, Christ the Redeemer, and a soon-to-be-completed Manhattan. There are others, too, and it’s all part of this weird (at least to us Westerners, or this one Westerner who is writing this) proliferation of what are being called “copy towns.” They’re villages and buildings and cities in China that are being constructed as replicas of non-Chinese places from around the world—and people are living in them. Hallstatt, China, has an artificial lake, and they imported doves to make it more Hallstatt-like. ...
There are many different reasons as to why these towns exist. No one reason seems to be fully responsible, rather it is culmination of many different circumstances. One of the main reasons is China’s developing middle and upper classes; a significant portion of people have become very wealthy, very quickly, and these people want a way to showcase their wealth. They are allowed to do so in modern China, but under the Mao regime public shows of wealth would not have been possible. However, given China’s recent history, it does not have a societal model for prosperity. Under Mao, class divisions were squashed and declarations of wealth were not usually allowed, and so they have turned to the West for ways in which to display their new-found fortunes. This adoption of Western styles may be an attempt to pick up an already established ready-made social attitude.
Another reason for the towns could be the huge building bubble that is taking place in China. Vast numbers of new buildings are being built, many of which have never been filled. In order to attract residents to their developments, the construction companies may be creating copy towns so that they stand out amongst the myriad buildings opening every day. Ironically, it is their copied nature that makes them unique in the market.
But generally China has a long history of copying, especially within architecture and the arts. For centuries the emperors would replicate lands that they had conquered within their own palace gardens. These constructs would often include fauna and plants from the conquered regions. This ability to replicate and maintain the distant land demonstrated the emperor’s control over the original region.
Then there is also China’s desire to replicate the West and become a first-world country. A lot of Chinese people look up to the West as an ideal, so the construction of these towns could be seen as a way of accelerating their progress; a quick way of achieving through emulation.
Thamestown: “a new town in Songjiang District, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from central Shanghai, China. It is named after the River Thames in England. The architecture is themed according to classic English market town styles. There are cobbled streets, Victorian terraces and corner shops.”(photo: triplefivechina.)
My wife Karen forwarded to me the other day Gizmodo’s story on a dry nook in the middle of a pond in Vöcklabruck, Austria, and it is certainly an eye-catching and amusing architectural gimmick.
The interesting coincidence is the location.
Vöcklabruck, in Upper Austria is my family’s ancestral home.
They were first recorded under the surname “Buchhaim,” which later became corrupted into Puchhaim and finally Pöchner. (Zienkiewicz came later.)
Über die Heimat der Pöchner ist nichts verlässliches bekannt. Während einige dieselben aus Schottland stammen lassen, wieder andere Steiermark als ihre Heimat nennen, kommen selbe zu Anfang des. 12. Jahrhunderts bereits in Salzburg vor, von wo sie sich nach Oberöstereich in die Gegend von Vöcklabruck wandten.
Concerning the homeland of the Pöchners there is no reliable information. According to some they originally emigrated from Scotland, but different sources call the Steiermark their homeland. From the beginning of the 12th Century onward they were in Salzburg, from whence they went to Upper Austria to the vicinity of Vöcklabruck.
The theory proposed by the former sources is that Buchhaim-Puchhaim-Pöchner surname comes actually from the Scottish Buchan, and that some Comyns related to the Norman Comyns who inherited via a Celtic maternal line the Scottish Earldom of Buchan moved to Austria.
This would be a plausible story if the emigration occurred in the years between 1306 and 1314 when the Comyns lost the struggle for power and the throne of Scotland to the Bruces, but the Pöchners are already in Austria two centuries earlier.
Below is the Pöchner coat of arms, which the heraldically-knowledgeable will perceive at once represents a simple reversal of the tinctures of the arms of Austria, i.e. of the Babbenburg Dukes of Austria, acquired by Leopold V (“Luitpold der Tugendhafte,” Leopold the Virtuous) in the course of the 1191 Siege of Acre.
Leopold’s arms consisted of “Gules, a fess Argent” because in the course of the fighting his tunic had become completely covered with blood except for a white band which had been covered by his belt.
Smithsonian’s Design Decoded explains the architectural origin of today’s standard Staunton-style chess men.
Prior to 1849, there was no such thing as a “normal chess set.” At least not like we think of it today. Over the centuries that chess had been played, innumerable varieties of sets of pieces were created, with regional differences in designation and appearance. As the game proliferated throughout southern Europe in the early 11th century, the rules began to evolve, the movement of the pieces were formalized, and the pieces themselves were drastically transformed from their origins in 6th century India. Originally conceived of as a field of battle, the symbolic meaning of the game changed as it gained popularity in Europe, and the pieces became stand-ins for a royal court instead of an army. Thus, the original chessmen, known as counselor, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, became the queen, pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. By the 19th century, chess clubs and competitions began to appear all around the world, it became necessary to use a standardized set that would enable players from different cultures to compete without getting confused.
In 1849, that challenge would be met by the “Staunton” Chess Set.
The Staunton chess pieces are the ones we know and love today, the ones we simply think of as chess pieces. Prior to its invention, there were a wide variety of popular styles in England, such as The St George, The English Barleycorn, and the Northern Upright. To say nothing of the regional and cultural variations. But the Staunton quickly would surpass them all. Howard Staunton was a chess authority who organized many tournaments and clubs in London, and was widely considered to be one of the best players in the world. Despite its name, the iconic set was not designed by Howard Staunton.
According to the most widely told origin story, the Staunton set was designed by architect Nathan Cook, who looked at a variety of popular chess sets and distilled their common traits while also, more importantly, looking at the city around him. Victorian London’s Neoclassical architecture had been influenced by a renewed interest in the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome, which captured the popular imagination after the rediscovery of Pompeii in the 18th century. The work of architects like Christopher Wren, William Chambers, John Soane, and many others inspired the column-like, tripartite division of king, queen, and bishop. A row of Staunton pawns evokes Italianate balustrades enclosing of stairways and balconies.
Projectophile pokes fun at mid-last-century architectural modernism’s dramatic gestures, economies, and built-in lethalities.
The clean lines, the geometric decorative elements, the seamless blending of indoor and outdoor space… I sure do love mid-century modern architecture.
Do you know what I love more? My children. And that is why I will never live in my MCM dream home. Because mid-century modern architecture is designed to KILL YOUR CHILDREN. (Also, moderately clumsy or drunk adults).
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s push to increase development in east Midtown would threaten some of the very buildings that give the neighborhood its character, preservation groups and community boards warn.
The buildings include the Barclay Hotel, the Yale Club, Brooks Brothers flagship store and the Graybar Building, which many New Yorkers may think — incorrectly — are protected as landmarks already.
The proposal is intended to provide a legacy of the Bloomberg administration by ensuring that the area around Grand Central Terminal stays on a competitive footing with business centers worldwide. It would increase the maximum allowable building density by 60 percent for some large sites near the terminal. Potential density would be increased 44 percent along an 11-block stretch of Park Avenue. Lesser increases would take effect elsewhere in the area between East 39th and East 57th Streets and between Fifth and Second Avenues, although most of the easternmost residential blocks would not be affected.
Such increases in density — meaning higher potential profits for landlords down the road — would give builders an incentive to spend the time and money needed to assemble large development parcels and then empty and demolish the buildings on them.
Westchester County Headquarters of the latest Bond villain or SUNY Purchase?
The Daily Caller picks (and mocks) the ugliest college campuses in America.
Hint: If you care about architectural beauty, do not attend any engineering schools built after WWII.
Yale has a lot of spectacularly beautiful buildings: the James Gamble Rogers colleges, Sterling Memorial Library, the Beinecke Rare Book Library (viewed from the inside), but Yale could compete in the ugliness stakes if it entered Morse and Stiles, the last built modern colleges; certain dormitories (Farnum, Lawrence, Durfee) on the Old Campus, which really resemble Victorian orphanages; and the Yale School of Architecture, Yale’s renownedly unhappy example of the school of Brutalism.
Personally, I would have included parts of Stanford in the Daily Caller essay.