Glory In Stone

The great age of Christian faith fulfilled its passion of spirit in the soaring vaults and glowing glass of the Gothic cathedral

The glorious west front of the great cathedral in Lincoln, England, was found some years ago to be leaning out of plumb. It was tilting at the terrifying rate of one inch every sixteen days. More, two of the angelic trinity of bell-towers were discovered to be in danger of collapse. At risk of their lives, masons temporarily shored up the structure which Ruskin had called the most precious piece of architecture in the land. But $600,000 would be required for the permanent rescue job (by the delicate operation of grouting with fluid mortar).Read more »

The Flowers And The Glory

How a highly historic eighteenth- c entury Connecticut house learned to live in harmony with a twentieth-century garden that is the only surviving American design of a great British landscape architect

 

The Glebe house in Woodbury, Connecticut, is appropriately named. A glebe, from the Latin word gleba , which means “clod of earth,” is a minister’s land endowment; the more fertile it is, the better it will support the pastor and his family. In fact, the earth of this western Connecticut glebe has proved especially fecund. Read more »

The Rise Of The Skyscraper And The Fall Of Louis Sullivan

He showed the way to the future and then was stranded there, at odds even with his own aesthetic sensibility

If a single building type can—and should—be identified with twentieth-century American architecture, it is the skyscraper. Tall buildings were the stuff of the stories told by the legions of European immigrants whose first glimpse of America was the southern tip of Manhattan Island, bristling with its towers. They remain a symbol of American corporate power. They are the way Americans describe how high Superman can leap in a single bound. Read more »

Small World

ROBERT MOSES built small with the same imperial vigor as he built big, and at his behest the art of making scale-model cities reached its peak. The result still survives, and although few New Yorkers know about it, they can see their whole town—right down to their own houses or apartment buildings—perfectly reproduced.

THERE ARE FEW REMINDERS THAT TWO WORLD’S FAIRS were held in New York’s Flushing Meadow. The Unisphere—the 140-foot steel globe encircled by the orbits of the first satellites—is still there, and a granite monument marks the spot where two time capsules were buried—one in 1938 and the other in 1963 —to be opened in the year 6939. Elsewhere more than thirty years of neglect have taken their toll.Read more »

Mother’s House

DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE IN NAME AND FORM, an icon of postmodernism comes wrapped in centuries of architectural history

VANNA VENTURI USED TO SIT AT HER DINING ROOM TABLE AND TALK TO visitors about her house in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. “This facade will tell you a lot of stories, if you will listen to it,” she would say. Read more »

Landmarks On The Rim

People visit the Grand Canyon for scenery, not architecture. But an assortment of buildings there, infused with history and the sensibility of one strong woman, are worth a long look.

If you drive West as far as you can along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you will come to a bowl-shaped building of logs and boulders nestled into the canyon’s side. Its picture windows give out on one of the great views in the world: over Yuma Point, then across the Colorado River to alluringly named landforms like Confucius Temple and the Tower of Ra that rise from the canyon floor. Read more »

Jefferson’s Paris

The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew.

Paris is every day enlarging and beautifying,” Thomas Jefferson noted with satisfaction during his residence there as minister to France. The city under construction was a delight to Jefferson, the art patron and amateur architect. He had arrived in 1784, determined to commission the finest living artists to glorify the birth of the American republic. Lafayette, Washington, John Paul Jones, and other heroes of the Revolution were to be immortalized by David, or perhaps by Madame Vigée-Lebrun.Read more »

City Station

ONCE THE VERY HEART of downtown St. Louis, Union Station has come through hard times to celebrate its one hundredth birthday—and even though the trains don’t pull in here anymore, it’s still an urban draw

 

The country’s largest railroad station as well as once one of the busiest will turn one hundred on September 4, and preceding the anniversary will come a summer’s worth of celebrations.Read more »

The Padre’s House

It belonged to Taos’s most influential family until well into the twentieth century, but this unadorned adobe hacienda speaks of the earliest days of Spanish occupation of the Southwest

In 1804 a Pueblo Indian sold his four-room adobe house in the farming community of Taos, New Mexico, to Don Severino Martínez, a Spanish trader. No other details of this transaction are recorded, although the dwelling was to become famous—both for the family who lived in it and for its survival as the best example of a Spanish hacienda in the American Southwest. Read more »

The White City

THE 1893 WORLD’S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WAS SO WONDERFUL THAT EVERYBODY HOPED IT WAS A PROPHECY OF WHAT THE TWENTIETH CENTURY HELD IN STORE. BUT IN FACT, THE CITY THAT MOUNTED IT WAS.

“The world’s greatest achievement of the departing century was pulled off in Chicago,” said George Ade, one of the city’s first important writers. “The Columbian Exposition was the most stupendous, interesting and significant show ever spread out for the public.” The fair drew an estimated twenty-seven million people, making it the greatest tourist attraction in American history. And it was a cultural phenomenon of profound importance.Read more »