Category Archives: Architecture History

A view of Providence in 1808

The Rhode Island Historical Society yesterday displayed its amazing 1809 drop curtain, owned by the society since 1833 and depicting the town as it appeared in 1808, twenty years before the Providence Arcade was built in 1828. It is thought … Continue reading

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Why the folks hate the mods

Mark Lamster’s The Man in the Glass House continues to offer up examples of Philip Johnson’s dislikeability, many of which amount to reasons why people dislike modern architecture. The following passage comes after Lamster has described how Johnson struck out … Continue reading

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Lessons of the Berlin Wall

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many lessons have been learned, but this post will not, of course, comment on its geopolitical takeaways. Instead, and briefly, I hope a useful parallel can be drawn … Continue reading

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Philip Johnson’s MoMA flub

In his recently published biography of modernist architect and impresario Philip Johnson, Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster has found so much to dislike in the man that I have been thoroughly enchanted – so far. But I want … Continue reading

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A “cauldron of perversions”

I did a double-take when I saw, in Metropolis, the article “Far From Being a Temple to Rationality, the Bauhaus Was a Cauldron of Perversions,” by Beatriz Colomina. Of course, I knew that already, having read “Making Dystopia,” James Stevens … Continue reading

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‘Spirit of the age’ bugaboo

Among the most inane of modern architecture’s founding conceits is that buildings reflect the spirit of the age. If a building truly reflects the spirit of the age rather than, as most people would expect, its architect’s desire to express … Continue reading

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Copy, precedent, inspiration

My friend and 2019 Bulfinch Award laureate Eric Daum recently revealed in a comment to my blog post “Cranston’s Hall Free Library” that this public library, built in 1927, must have been inspired by architect Albert Kahn’s William Clements Library, … Continue reading

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In Waterbury, a sip of Conn.

Next Wednesday I’ll be visiting Waterbury, Conn., for the first time in a great many years, and even then I did not visit but passed through. For a New Englander (by choice, not by birth) I have relatively little experience … Continue reading

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TB blog: “Making Dystopia”

Here is my Traditional Building blog post from last month, shortly after I received a review copy of Making Dystopia. *** I’ve only just received a review copy of Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism, by … Continue reading

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Corbu’s rant at Neimeyer

Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect who died in 2012 at age 104, is best known for designing Brasília, the sterile über-modernist new capital city that arose in the Brazilian outback in something like three years in the late 1950s. Its … Continue reading

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