Archive for August, 2014

MCNY PRESENTS THE STORY BEHIND NYC’S DRAMATIC TILED ARCHES

By kristin

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If you’ve ever dined under the pearlescent vault of the Grand Central Oyster Bar or marveled at the abandoned subway station at the end of the 6 train line, then you’ve seen the work of the Guastavinos – the father-and-son team whose arched tile ceilings helped transform America’s interior spaces at the turn of the 20th century.

Their innovative method of constructing elegant, self-supporting thin tile vaults is the focus of a fascinating exhibition, Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, at the Museum of the City of New York running until September 7, 2014.

Palaces for the People exhibit at MCNY

With archival photos, a large-format photograph of the now defunct City Hall subway station and a half-scale replica of a Guastavino vault, the exhibit takes you back in time, when New York underwent a profound physical and cultural transformation in the late 1800s. Money was being poured into the beautification of municipal buildings and the creation of grand architectural landmarks such as Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall, the Municipal Building and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. These structures, and hundreds of others throughout the country, all contain one of the most beautiful engineering feats of the 20th century: interlocking tile vaults designed and built by a single New York firm, the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company.

Palaces for the People at MCNY

Founded by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino Sr., and subsequently led by his son, Rafael Jr., the Guastavino Company helped build some of the most impressive interior spaces in America. Based on early Mediterranean building methods, their patented system for constructing domes and vaults involved multiple layers of thin ceramic tiles bonded with quick-drying mortar. The resulting structures were not only exceptionally strong, but also lightweight, easy to build, and inherently beautiful, thanks to intricate patterns of exposed tile that formed finished, decorative surfaces. During its 73-year history, the Guastavino Company contributed to some of America’s greatest public spaces – veritable palaces for the people.

Guastavino tile

 

Celebrate Mid-Century Architecture at SarasotaMod Week[end]

By Dahlia

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The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) presents SarasotaMOD Week[end], a four-day festival, held in the beautiful Gulf Coast city of Sarasota, FL, commemorating the region’s iconic mid-20th century architecture. This weekend event, October 9th – 12th, 2014, is jam-packed with guided trolley, boat, and walking tours, social gatherings, and presentations by distinguished architects, critics and designers. For more information, visit www.sarasotamod.com.

Healy Guest House, Sarasota, FL, 1950.  Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph architects.

Healy Guest House, Sarasota, FL, 1950. Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph architects.

SarasotaMOD Week[end]’s speakers will include such leading modernist architects as Carl Abbott, author of Informed by the Land; John Howey, author of The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1966;Joe King, co-author of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses; Lawrence Scarpa, pioneer of sustainable design; and Tim Seibert, designer of many iconic Sarasota School of Architecture structures. Presenters will also include acclaimed landscape architect Raymond Jungles and author, critic and filmmaker Alastair Gordon.

Sarasota High School, Sarasota Fl, 1958.  Paul Rudolph, architect.

Sarasota High School, Sarasota Fl, 1958. Paul Rudolph, architect.

Festival participants will have a chance to experience Sarasota’s architectural jewels in the context of Florida’s subtropical setting. SAF’s board chair, Janet Minker discusses the importance of the relationship between the Saratosa architectural movement and its location. She states, “There’s a reason a globally significant architectural movement grew up in what used to be sleepy seaside town by the Gulf of Mexico. Not every city with beautiful sandy beaches and palm tree-lined streets inspired an architectural movement that actually takes the city’s name. Sarasota did. We’re going to examine why.”

Festival Highlights

October 9
Opening Reception: The Building Itself Teaches. Lorrie Muldowney, manager of Sarasota County Historical Resources will offer insights in this final showing of an exhibit of Philip Hiss’ legacy of architectural excellence as head of Sarasota County’s public school system.

 

October 10
Experiential Transformations. The life of a building is the life of the people who use it. Noted architect and keynote speaker Lawrence Scarpa will investigate the experiential context of creating, enjoying and preserving great structures, and why experience is the most important building block of all.

Laying the Foundation: The Making of a Modern Sarasota, 1880-1940. From the turn of the 20th century until the 1920s, John Hamilton Gillespie, Bertha Palmer, John Ringling and Owen Burns laid the foundation for the modernist architectural visionaries to come. Architectural columnist Harold Bubil and historian and author Jeff LaHurd will shed light on their achievements.

Stories on Stage: Interview with John Howey. In 1997, architect John Howey’s The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1966 hit the bookstores. His groundbreaking book put the region’s modernist legacy back on the map and inspired the modernists of the future. What’s the story behind the story? Thanks to an unscripted interview with historian Christine Madrid French, we’ll find out.

Bubil’s Top Ten Buildings in Sarasota. Architectural critic and Herald-Tribune columnist Harold Bubil will reveal his best-loved buildings, including work by Jack West, Victor Lundy, Paul Rudolph and I.M. Pei, on this trolley tour.  

 

October 11
True Veterans of the Sarasota School. Sarasota School veterans Tim Seibert, Carl Abbott and John Howey will explore the architectural alchemy that made this regional expression of mid-century modernism possible. Architect and architectural critic Joyce Owens will moderate this magical panel discussion.

Prosperous Bohemians. What do Long Island and Sarasota have in common? A legacy of mid-century modern beach houses—some demolished, and some still standing. Alastair Gordon’s presentation will reveal sustainable, domestic spaces by Charles Gwathmey, Richard Meier, George Nelson, Philip Johnson and others.

Philip Hiss: The Impresario of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Morris Hylton III will explore the architectural impact of adventurer, photographer, author, diplomat and entrepreneur, Philip Hanson Hiss III.

Mid-Century Modern: Inside, Outside and Beyond. Architects Samuel Holladay and Michael Epstein and interior designer Pamela Holladay will investigate the mid-century modern paradigm, and how contemporary architects and interior designers can approach that design inheritance with understanding and respect in their renovation projects. Case studies will reveal creative design solutions to mid-century makeovers in the real world.

Paul Rudolph’s Sanderling Beach Club Buffet Supper. Rudolph’s national reputation is defined, and sometimes pigeonholed, by his monumental concrete structures. Here, dinner guests will enjoy his playful side, in an interconnected, vaulted gathering space of cypress, glass and concrete. Architects Joe King and Carl Abbott will supply the dinner conversation.

 

October 12
SarasotaMOD 2015 Preview. Secrets and surprises are on the menu at this Sunday brunch at the mid-century inspired Shore Diner on beautiful St. Armands Key. Guests will preview SAF’s plans for SarasotaMOD 2015 and meet the team behind SAF’s ambitious recreation of Paul Rudolph’s iconic Walker Guest House on the campus of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Be sure to visit www.sarasotamod.com for more information!

(All photos: Greg Wilson)