Ross Award winners of 2018

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The Williamstrip Bath House, by Craig Hamilton. (Photos by Paul Highnam)

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art has just announced this year’s Arthur Ross Award laureates. Unlike the Bulfinch Awards of the New England chapter (also just announced) and other regional ICAA awards programs, which honor specific works, the ICAA’s Ross awards honor the career “achievements and contributions of architects, painters, sculptors, artisans, interior designers, landscape designers, educators, publishers, patrons, and others dedicated to preserving and advancing the classical tradition.” This year’s honorees are excellent. Go to the announcement to see multiple examples of the life work of each laureate.

By way of introducing this year’s Ross winners, allow me to focus on one building by Craig Hamilton, this year’s choice in the category of architecture. The building is a new bath house on a wealthy estate in Gloucestershire whose manor house, restored in the 1790s by Sir John Soane, had just been renovated by Hamilton. The bath house combines a number of strains that, it seems to me, characterize much of his work since he emigrated to Britain from South Africa.

The Williamstrip Bath House combines a temple front with colonnades (one of four columns and another of six columns) that reach back on either side to a hemispherical bow at the rear of the building. Its classical styling is very restrained, except for the twin columns flanking the temple front. Their capitals are described by Katie Gerfen for Architect: “[O]n the entrance façade [Hamilton] reinterprets Ionic columns at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius in Bassae, Greece, exaggerating the volutes to the point of creating his own chambered-nautilus-like nonce order.”

The capitals surely will strike some as disproportionally rendered. Is this a sin against ye olde classical canon? Is it experimental? Is it creativity? Is it “bad trad”? Sometimes it can be hard to say, but bad trad it is not. Like the rest of the building, the temple front is certainly spare, but it would probably strike Nikolaus Pevsner, say, as criminally profuse in its embellishment.

Never mind. Advancing the classical tradition, the chief purpose of the ICAA, means preserving the canon and promoting its glory through diversification. Craig Hamilton has performed both roles, and his Ross makes perfect sense.

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About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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4 Responses to Ross Award winners of 2018

  1. You may enjoy Using the Architecture of the Home to Teach | Residential Design | | | | | |

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    From: Architecture Here and There To: duo.dickinson@snet.net Sent: Friday, March 9, 2018 9:20 PM Subject: [New post] Ross Award winners of 2018 #yiv6197610974 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6197610974 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6197610974 a.yiv6197610974primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6197610974 a.yiv6197610974primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6197610974 a.yiv6197610974primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6197610974 a.yiv6197610974primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6197610974 WordPress.com | David Brussat posted: “The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art has just announced this year’s Arthur Ross Award laureates. Unlike the Bulfinch Awards of the New England chapter (also just announced) and other regional ICAA awards programs, which honor specific works” | |

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  2. sethweine says:

    Hmm. I don’t think that website address came across quite clearly. Let’s try again:
    http://www.craighamiltonarchitects.com

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  3. Seth Joseph Weine says:

    I’m a great admirer of Craig Hamilton, and I was thinking of nominating him for a Ross Award—so I’m absolutely delighted to see that someone else has done the work (and he’s won)!
    For the bathhouse, I wonder if he was insured by the several aquatically-oriented works by Pasquale Poccianti in Livorno: the three great “Cisternoni of Livorno”.
    I think i see—in Hamilton’s play of void and solid, use of apsidal form, balance, and utter delight in solidity—a genetic link to those magnificent civic buildings the mid-1800’s.
    To cite such possible precedent s not to detract one teensy bit from Craig Hamiltons’ work. If we aren’t inspired by (and learning from) our great predecessors, then whom should we be learning from?
    You can see photos of the buildings I mention here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisternoni_of_Livorno#Pasquale_Poccianti
    Respectfully
    Seth Joseph Weine

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    • sethweine says:

      One of the other things I like about Craig Hamilton’s work is his commitment to good drawing. One can see abundant examples by exploring his website:
      craig hamilton architects

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