Trads trash mods in new poll

One of seven pairs of matched federal buildings in survey by Harris Poll. Another example is at end.

Now would not seem to be the moment for convergence on a major cultural issue in America. Division is everywhere. And yet a new survey by the Harris Poll, done for the National Civic Art Society, shows an overwhelming public preference for classical over modernist styles in the design of federal buildings and courthouses.

In August, the Harris people showed 2,039 respondents seven pairs of unidentified federal buildings, each matching one classical against one modernist in style, and asked “Which of these two buildings would you prefer for a U.S. courthouse or federal office building?” They took care to make sure each choice was fair:

From a long list of many dozens of photos, the seven pairs of images were very carefully selected and edited to ensure fair comparisons. Factors such as sky color, angle of photo, light conditions, distance from building, weather conditions, nature of foreground, nature and quality of street furniture, presence of street trees, parked cars, and passing people were all controlled for either perfectly (e.g., sky color) or as far as possible via careful photo selection and editing.

Click the link above for the survey itself to judge how diligently they worked to match the buildings evenly.

The poll found that Americans prefer classical architecture across a range of demographics. A ratio of between two-to-one and three-to-one prevailed in favor of tradition among Americans in general and among categories of the public broken down according to age, sex, race, income, education, region and party. The numbers of those who prefer traditional over modernist styles for courthouses and other federal buildings are as follows:

  • Overall: Traditional vs. modern, 72-28 percent
  • Age: 65+, 77-23 percent; 18-34, 68-32 percent;
  • Sex: Women, 77-23 percent; men, 67-33 percent;
  • Race: White, 75-25; black, 62-38; Hispanic, 65-35;
  • Income: Under $50,000, 73-27; over $100,000, 70-30;
  • Education: High school or less, 72-28; college grad/post, 72-28;
  • Region: Northeast, 73-27; South, 73-27; Midwest, 74-26; West, 69-31;
  • Party: Republican, 73-27, Democrat, 70-30; Independent, 73-27.

It is naturally gratifying for classicists to yet again have their reverence for tradition ratified by solid public support. It may surprise some that the degree of that preference is maintained over such a range of demographic categories. But few classicists can be surprised by the findings. Indeed, few modernists can be surprised. That the preference for tradition prevails well beyond federal buildings is a sensible presumption that might be taken from the survey’s modest conclusions:

Why does a wide majority of Americans prefer a U.S. courthouse or federal office building with a traditional appearance? Perhaps the neoclassical style of some of these buildings, as well as that of Colonial Revival, is positively associated with the historic architecture of the American founding, iconic government buildings such as the U.S. Supreme Court, and/or the country’s democracy. Furthermore, some of the buildings in the study are characterized by classical columns and pediments—features that could signify a courthouse as a recognizable building type—i.e., a temple of justice.

It is also possible that Americans perceive traditional buildings as being more beautiful or pleasing to the eye than modern ones.

By contrast, the survey describes the minority taste in language that arouses little sympathy. Or maybe that merely reflects the bias of this writer. Either way, the survey’s description is as follows:

In comparison to the traditional buildings in the study, the modern-style buildings follow a more minimalistic, austere style with emphasis on glass, concrete, and sharp geometric shapes. The three modern style buildings that were at the bottom of the list of those Americans preferred all feature a grey unornamented concrete façade with uniform repetitive windows, which may project a more cold and sterile feel compared to the warmer stone and variation in structure of the traditional buildings.

Cold and sterile. Some people prefer that. Still, it would be interesting to see whether further polling might reveal how much of the minority taste for modern architecture reflects genuine admiration for such styles or, instead, admiration feigned for motives of sociological or professional self-interest.

I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that study to be performed.

The survey was sponsored by the National Civic Art Society in order, I suspect, to bolster the case for the proposed executive order called “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” which remains unsigned by President Trump. It was leaked last February and caused a sensation, but the healthy debate it sparked back then was snuffed by Covid.

In recent years, the NCAS has tried to stop the Gehry Ike memorial, striven to rebuild Penn Station in its original classical style, and, most recently, triggered the effort to rethink the existing mandate for federal architecture. Who are these guys? You’d think I’d be a member (and indeed I am).

A panel held on Wednesday via zoom, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute to discuss the merits of the E.O., reached no conclusions, although the four panelists voiced varying degrees of support for the proposal. While the new survey on federal buildings was mentioned by NCAS president Justin Shubow, the panelists did not get around to assessing the merits of the E.O. in light of the new information. Most of the back-and-forth touched on weighty academic matters that would never enter the mind of most citizens.

In one of the more striking assertions, former Notre Dame architecture school dean Michael Lykoudis argued that if the E.O. is signed, “those who believe classicism is authoritarian will have seen their point made.” This is one of the leading modernist talking points against the proposal, in spite of the fact that a mandate favoring modern architecture has existed since 1962. But why should the told-you-so’s of a few cranks prevent the public from playing a role, at last, in how federal buildings are designed?

Modernists who oppose the E.O. routinely declare that a stylistic mandate from Washington will erase public participation in the design of federal buildings across the nation when, in fact, no such participation has been solicited for decades. We already have a stylistic mandate from Washington, but it favors styles that three-quarters of the public dislike.

How democratic is that?

Trump is unlikely to sign the executive order until after the election. Why try to curry favor with such a solid majority of the electorate? He should sign it before the election, and watch the heads explode.

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Today: Panel on classical EO

Winning design for the U.S. Capitol by William Thornton in 1792 competition.

Today at 2 p.m., a distinguished panel on the proposed White House executive order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” will be held in Washington. The panel, with Justin Shubow of the National Society of Civic Art, Philip Bess of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, and other worthies, will discuss the proposed E.O. via video livestream and take questions. The panel is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. Those interested in attending can click on the AEI website here.

No doubt the panelists will discuss the very recent new survey by the Harris Poll of architectural preferences, sponsored by the NCAS. I was planning to discuss the survey in this post, but instead, I am trying to get word out about the AEI panel. Enjoy! I will discuss the survey and the panel in my next post.

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Nix the San Marco bugaboo

Piazza San Marco in Venice in all its stylistic variety. (Flickr)

In my last post, “Neighbors win third straight,” I described the latest zoom meeting of the Providence Historic District Commission, which deferred action for a third (actually, a fourth) straight time on proposals to relocate a historic cottage and to build a new pair of townhouses between Williams and John on College Hill. Friedrich St. Florian, their designer, used a common argument to defend his blatantly modernist design.

Modernist house proposed for John Street. (PHDC)

St. Florian, who is celebrated for his design of the Providence Place mall here and the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., referred to Venice’s Piazza San Marco to defend his proposal to place a modernist building in one of Providence’s oldest historic districts.

Using an argument widely deployed by modernists for decades, St. Florian noted that “every single building is different in style but are harmonious.” Therefore, he concluded, placing a modernist house on a historic street like John Street should not upset the neighbors on College Hill.

St. Florian is correct in his description of the famous plaza but incorrect in the conclusion he (and many other modernists) has drawn from it. Yes, all the buildings are of different styles and they all fit together nicely, and yet because all of the styles are traditional, the argument is flawed. Architects who make it are actually making the case for the tremendous variety of traditional architecture. But to plop a modernist building in St. Mark’s would be as disconcerting there as to plop a modernist house on John Street.

Let’s say you have four men in a saloon: a white, a black, a brown and a yellow man seated at the bar. They are joined by a red man. How lovely! If, instead of a red man a robot comes into the saloon and sits down at the bar, what then? The robot, which is hard and metallic rather than soft and flesh, does not fit in at all. That is what St. Florian proposes on John Street.

Modernism is by definition anti-traditional. Traditional architecture features elements that grew organically, evolving generation after generation over millennia from the Greco-Roman roots of classical architecture. All members of tradition’s family tree, however different, have enough design elements in common to stand together nicely on St. Mark’s Plaza or on John Street, or, in fact, anywhere else. The beauty of John Street may not necessarily be ruined by a modernist house, but its historical character certainly would be. Modern architecture rejects the whole idea of fitting in.

Coincidentally, it seems, a new survey just came out on Wednesday showing that almost 75 percent of Americans prefer traditional styles of architecture to modernist styles of architecture. The results were broken down by income, age, gender, race, region, education and political preference. In each category some three-quarters of over 2,000 respondents to the survey who chose from seven pairs of buildings, one mod and the other trad, favored the traditional federal building over the modernist building.

Very few Americans or citizens of any country can possibly be surprised by this finding. Despite a relative dearth of scholarly and scientific studies, the wide preference for traditional architecture over modern architecture has been evident to virtually all observers, including modernists, since the outset of their challenge to tradition in the early 20th century.

The survey was performed by the Harris Poll in August and sponsored by the National Civic Art Society. My next post will describe it in more detail.

Left: William Jefferson Clinton Building (EPA). Right: Robert C. Weaver Building (HUD). (Gallup)

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Neighbors win third straight

At left is a rendering of duplex version from June submission; the one at right is from October. (HDC)

It may not yet be three strikes you’re out for the developers, but neighbors who want to preserve their little nook of history just off Benefit Street have persuaded the Providence Historic Preservation Commission that a plan to plop modern architecture into their midst needs more work.

The commissioners asked developer Joseph Furtado and architect Friedrich St. Florian to return with more details on two aspects of their plan. The first would relocate 59 Williams St., a small Victorian cottage, a few feet closer to the street. That would make room for the second – a new duplex townhouse, and possibly one or two more, to be built on the other end of the property, at 6 John St., after cutting down its historic wooded area.

Naturally, the neighbors are concerned about the woods and the relocation of the cottage. Yet the neighbors seem less concerned about the modernist style of the duplex, even though it, more so than the relocation of the cottage or even the loss of the woods, would rob them of the historical character that undergirds the beauty of College Hill and the value of their own houses.

A more traditional rendering of duplex from June submission. (HDC)

Many of those who testified against the project at last Monday’s HDC meeting via zoom, and the commissioners themselves, voiced levels of concern that a modernist house was “out of character” with the neighborhood. But the witnesses’ hearts really didn’t seem in it. They assured the commissioners that they don’t object to a modernist style – “just not here.”

“I’m not against modernism as some people are,” said Lily Bogosian, adding nevertheless that “we know how things ought to look in this neighborhood.”

This ambiguous attitude seems to have emboldened architect St. Florian to replace the gabled roofs of the third story balconies in an earlier version of the duplex, which the commission saw last June, in favor of flat roofs while adding “ocean liner” railings to the balconies and larger windows of a more modernist character.

These features suggest that St. Florian was eager for his design to doff its cap to founding modernist Le Corbusier. St. Florian’s respect in Rhode Island rests primarily on his traditional and pleasing designs for the Providence Place mall and the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – big projects that made his national reputation.

It is odd that after these triumphs he has, late in his career, returned to the abstract modernism he favored as a young RISD professor. Even more curious is his willingness to risk the project, in the face of the presumed sentiments of the community, by shifting the design of the duplex much further toward modernism as the HDC process moved into an even more contentious phase. But with even the neighborhood singing the praises of St. Florian, who can blame the developer for his confidence in the architect?

Of the 6 John St. version of the duplex unveiled last week, St. Florian said: “I think this is going to be one of the most beautiful new additions to College Hill,” adding, “I am proud of this design.” Later, he chided the neighbors, arguing that their “personal opinions” are not “judgments.” Huh?

Altogether, opponents of the project raised so many objections to moving the cottage and giving “conceptual approval” to the duplex design that the commission voted unanimously against its own staff’s recommendation to approve both. Regarding the cottage, the staff had determined that “the proposed relocation and construction is architecturally and historically compatible with the property and district.” Regarding the design of the duplex, it determined, again, and without evidence, that the duplex design was “historically compatible” with nearby houses and the wider district.

That the staff was capable of making such recommendations testifies to the modernist sympathies of almost all professional preservationists, who keenly feel the pressure of elite opinion. Commendably, the commission properly deferred to the more sophisticated sensibilities of the neighbors, in spite of the reluctance of many neighbors to oppose modern architecture in a historic district (or at least this one) as vociferously as they should.

Developer and architect are likely to return in November with a plan that does not move the cottage. But, picking up on the neighbors’ all-too-typical architectural ambivalence, the architect seems unlikely to retreat from the modernist design of the duplex. This is a contest of wills, and the will of the neighbors is weak in this regard. Whether the commissioners will continue to have the fortitude to push back, on behalf of the neighbors (and the city), against both their staff and the developer remains to be seen.

Largely unnoted modernist addition to cottage sits behind wall but can be seen from street. (HDC)

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Online drafting-tool angst

Set of drafting tools from Australia. (Douglas Finney/Pinterest)

This is the fourth but not necessarily the last in my brief series on the tools used in architectural drafting. I cannot imagine how artists and illustrators whose work features architecture can do it without technological assistance. Art and the machine! In the distant past, buildings were often designed, and certainly built, with a certain indeterminacy of line to which Time and Mother Nature added beauty.

The precision of line and surface was improved over the centuries with the use of drafting equipment, but now computing (CAD, or computer-assisted design) has taken some of the art out of architectural rendering. Still, some want to hark back to ye olden ways. Today, the acquisition of vintage tools can be frustrating. Read “This A-Hole Wants How Much?” by a cartoonist named Douglas (he signs himself “Admin”) at the Arsenic Lullabies Blog.

I read the whole thing. It is not improper to call it a screed, though Admin uses the word rant, or even the less rollicking complaint. Douglas’s complaint is long but the hilarity of his illustrated descriptions of the flaws of drafting tools he buys online compels a reader to follow the screed to the end. Along the way, beware of assorted pottymouthisms, solecisms and neologisms. Here he sums up his predicament:

Since, it would be legally impertinent, to rant about what I’d like to rant about right now,* I’m going to complain about something else I have been putting off complaining about.

One of the great screws of being an Illustrator or an artist is how much good supplies cost.  Even in the age of online stores it’s still expensive.  For example a 3 ounce bottle of quality ink will run you from $3 to $5.  Let me put that  in perspective for you.  Ink has two ingredients water and dye.  Soda has about 49 ingredients and you can get 20 ounces of it for 1.00. People who use oil based paints are laughing at me for complaining about ink, because a set of quality oil pant is close to a monthly car payment.  Brushes, pens, canvas….the good stuff is way over priced compared to tools people in other professions use.  Even when I was a mechanic and looking through the Snap-On catalogue (the gold standard for tools) tools were cheaper…and you could use the same one for the rest of your life.

The problem is there are not enough of us for the supplies to be mass produced to the point the cost is reasonable.  You see a painting for sale, it probably cost 200.00 just in supplies.  It’s ridiculous, and a little sick.

*And what might that be?

We are left to wonder. I am still wondering whether the subjects of my three previous posts – Phiz, Antiquity Smith and James Holland – actually used drafting tools in their work. But wondering can be hazardous, for here comes a stray thought: Might greater ease of producing precise lines and curves with the application of drafting tools have played a role in the profession’s drift toward modern architecture? Hmm.

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A draftsman in watercolor?

Watercolor of Venice by James Holland. Are the buildings inked in first? (Mario A. Pita)

My wife, Victoria, sent me a Facebook post by Mario A. Pita, a son of Cuban refugees who resides in Arlington, Va., and who enjoys posting artists’ work on their birthdays. The birthday of watercolorist James Holland (1799-1870) fell just as I was conceiving a series of posts on architectural drafting tools and their disappearance from the market, but so far I’m not sure any of my subjects until now (“Phiz” and “Antiquity Smith”) used drafting tools in their work. As for James Holland, the Englishman appears to have used drafting tools, but I remain unsure. Painting architecture is not the same as painting nature or humans. Either he used drafting tools to outline the buildings first, or he had good eye for a straight line and the virtuosity of a curve.

You can see, in these watercolors of Venice, the outlines of buildings that might have been drawn with the tools of the draftsman. Readers of greater knowledge of painting techniques will, I hope, reveal whether Holland drew with his eye or used tools to assist his eye, and then washed the scene with watercolors. In some of these the etchings seem to be more evident than in others as a base for the architecture. Look and enjoy! (Click to enlarge.)

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Before the London fire, 1666

Corner of Hosier Lane, West Smithfield – Drawn April 1795 (spitalfieldslife.com)

An engraver by trade, John Thomas Smith trod this earth two centuries ago (1766-1833), and was also known as “Antiquity Smith.” He etched buildings in London that had survived the Great Fire of 1666, many of which were being demolished in his own time. Some of these etchings were collected five years ago in a post by “the gentle author,” whose real name I could not find on his blog, called “Spitalfields Life,” after the famous district in London’s East End (the nobs lived in the West End). These drawings are from his post “John Thomas Smith’s Ancient Topography.”

This is a second part of my series on architectural drafting, which began with a post on drawings by Phiz that illustrated Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop. I think it more likely that this post on Smith features images performed with drafting tools. Those of Phiz – surely not. These of Smith – maybe not. The rapid disappearance of drafting tools from commercial availability was the idea that sparked this series. But let us carry on anyhow.

In the following passage, Smith’s work is introduced to readers by the gentle author – whose blog’s motto is “In the midst of life I woke to find myself living in an old house beside Brick Lane in the East End of London.” Here is that passage:

Two centuries ago, John Thomas Smith set out to record the last vestiges of ancient London that survived from before the Great Fire of 1666 but which were vanishing in his lifetime. You can click on any of these images to enlarge them and study the tender human detail that Smith recorded in these splendid etchings he made from his own drawings. My passion for John Thomas Smith’s work was first ignited by his portraits of raffish street sellers published as Vagabondiana and I was delighted to spot several of those familiar characters included here in these vivid streets scenes of London long ago.

And here are some of those street scenes:

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Inking “Old Curiosity Shop”

Nell and grandfather leave shop for the last time.

In recent days I’ve received a veritable flood of emails of about architectural drafting and illustration, the first regretting the disappearance of the tools of that trade, the others a succession of excellent examples. I’m not sure all of the sets of examples (or any of them) are species of the art in question. They are old, to be sure, as print-worthy examples of architectural draftmanship of recent vintage are rare. But all of those I’ve been sent are brilliant.

London, by Phiz, from “Bleak House.”

I plan a series of posts displaying some of these illustrations, and I begin with illustrations by George Cattermole and Hablot K. Browne, better known as Phiz. Their names are worthy of Dickens, whose The Old Curiosity Shop they depict. Except for the scene of Nell and granddad leaving the shop, the book has no vivid illustrations of London’s streets, so I have provided one he did for Bleak House. First, however, let’s enjoy a description of the “rooms” inhabited by one of the book’s chief characters, Mr. Richard Swiveller, one of several ridiculous creatures eager to take advantage of Little Nell, or rather to take possession of her supposed secret wealth. Her death in the novel caused a sudden and mass sensation among her readers, who followed her plight during 1841 in weekly installments. Oscar Wilde is said to have remarked: “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears … of laughter.”

Here is Dickens’s depiction of Dick Swiveller’s rooms. The author introduces the passage by describing the “wine” served by Dick Swiveller to guests, which is actually a mixture of gin and water. Dickens continues:

By a like pleasant fiction his single chamber was always mentioned in the plural number. In its disengaged times, the tobacconist had announced it in his window as “apartments” for a single gentleman, and Mr. Swiveller, following up the hint, never failed to speak of it as his rooms, his lodgings, or his chambers, conveying to his hearers a notion of indefinite space, and leaving their imaginations to wander through long suites of lofty halls, at pleasure.

Let that passage, from the 1985 Penguin Classics edition, serve as a teazer for the architectural illustratons below, in the order of the tale.

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Deplatform Beethoven’s 5th?

Midtown Manhattan as seen in 1931. (favrify.com)

As I write I am listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Of all his symphonies, including even my favorite, the Ninth, the Fifth seems to ring most true to Goethe’s description of architecture as “frozen music.” You can hear it building to the epiphany of a skyline of classical towers in old New York City, circa 1930. Invariably, the glory of classical architecture, and it alone, fills the mind and the soul.

Beethoven in 1804, the year he began his Fifth. (Wikipedia)

Yet I suppose I must admit I was not surprised by “How Beethoven’s 5th Symphony put the classism in classical music,” by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding in Vox. After noting that its opening notes – Duh duh duh DUHHH – set to music Beethoven’s “progression from struggle to victory as a metaphor for Beethoven’s personal resilience in the face of his oncoming deafness,” they write:

Or rather, that’s long been the popular read among those in power, especially the wealthy white men who embraced Beethoven and turned his symphony into a symbol of their superiority and importance. For some in other groups — women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color — Beethoven’s symphony may be predominantly a reminder of classical music’s history of exclusion and elitism.

Well, I’m glad to read that I am “among those in power”!

But no, I was not surprised that a composition that required genius and perseverance to accomplish now falls under the shadow of theories that consider genius and perseverance as qualities to which only certain people can aspire. Talk about prejudice! The very idea disproves the view that two heads are better than one. It took two writers to achieve such stupidity!

A year and a half after the Fifth premiered in 1808 at Vienna, critic E.T.A. Hoffman described the imagery the symphony conjures up:

Radiant beams shoot through this region’s deep night, and we become aware of gigantic shadows which, rocking back and forth, close in on us and destroy everything within us except the pain of endless longing—a longing in which every pleasure that rose up in jubilant tones sinks and succumbs, and only through this pain, which, while consuming but not destroying love, hope, and joy, tries to burst our breasts with full-voiced harmonies of all the passions, we live on and are captivated beholders of the spirits.

Clearly the critic had a superior imagination. Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman, a German, was the author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. Obviously Hoffman was “behaving white” before his time! (That is not my idea; I merely mock and parody the ideas of Messrs. Sloan, Harding and their ilk. Blame them.)

Maybe what Hoffman heard is not what you hear when you listen to the Fifth. That’s not what I hear. I hear beauty and it causes me to feel a heaving of my breast. Maybe a heaving of my breast is just what Hoffman described, translated into less than eighty words. And yet I do not feel that I have misunderstood or failed to appreciate the music.

Indeed, Hoffman himself puts this feeling of mine (superior? inferior?) into words that more directly reflect the listening experience of me and most others who have the pleasure of hearing the Fifth:

How this wonderful composition, in a climax that climbs on and on, leads the listener imperiously forward into the spirit world of the infinite! … No doubt the whole rushes like an ingenious rhapsody past many a man, but the soul of each thoughtful listener is assuredly stirred, deeply and intimately, by a feeling that is none other than that unutterable portentous longing, and until the final chord—indeed, even in the moments that follow it—he will be powerless to step out of that wondrous spirit realm where grief and joy embrace him in the form of sound.

Well, maybe the last bit is a little much. I wish I were powerless to step out of that wondrous spirit realm. Unfortunately, the real world awaits me and everyone else as we exit the concert hall.

So how does all this come to represent “classical music’s history of exclusion and elitism,” as the two authors put it?

They spend much of their essay describing how – apparently from the Fifth’s debut onward, and not before – classical music required concertgoers to refrain from cheering or clapping before the end. Sneezing was verboten. From then on you had to dress up to attend classical concerts. Is this the sum and totality of  the exclusion and elitism of classical music? I don’t think so. Today the penguin suit is no longer required. Does that mean that classism has at last been dismissed from classical music?

I could argue that the attire for a rock concert is just as conformist as that of a classical concert used to be. If classical music is to be deplatformed for the sins of Western civilization, then it would seem as if every accomplishment of Western civilization is tainted and must be sacrificed. Is this not, in fact, what many believe today? I would argue, against the perverse doctrine of Harding, Sloan & Co., that the directions to Carnegie Hall remain the same as always: practice, practice, practice. This is open to all who have the sense to ignore the reigning claptrap.

And since the composition of architecture is under the same attack as the architecture of music, the same directions apply: Ignore, ignore, ignore!

Theater an der Wien, in Vienna, where the Fifth debuted. (Wikipedia)

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It’s truly a beautiful world

Like everyone else, people I know send me stuff online that they get from people they know. Lee Juskalian, who used to work on development in Providence until moving to California a couple of decades ago, occasionally sends me photographs, in this case photos he has received from a friend of his, Robin Georgeff. Where she gets them, I don’t know. These are indeed amazing shots of the natural world – in which I would include the one on top of this post of a road in Wiltshire, England. I had trouble deciding which of two shots from Robin to put on top. I chose Wiltshire because the cottages seem almost literally of the natural world. The shot of the pyramids from a street (seemingly cut through rock) in Cairo takes its place on the bottom of this post. It, too, is an extraordinary shot, partly because you never see the pyramids as they are seen from Cairo, and partly because, in this shot, they seem to be floating on air in the distance. Most of these are photographs of nature, but some feature architecture or urbanism. They are all astounding in their way. They were compiled by a website called Izismile.com, and sent to me by Lee on August 5. Thank you, Lee! Thank you Robin! Enjoy!

I had planned to link to Lee’s email, which has all the rest. Unfortunately, I could not find a way to import it onto this post – barred for security reasons, according to WordPress. However, I will screenshot those I consider the most fabulous of 40 total below, following the pyramids. (The captions are at the top of each image. I found after publishing that I forgot to give the caption on the seventh photo down, of Tokyo.) Not long after I also found a link to the photos on the Izismile website. Press that link – here – and you can see which photos I left on the cutting room floor, giving you an opportunity to damn my judgment. So again, have fun!


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