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ILMA of the Week: Frank H. Furness

This week’s ILMA Architect of the Week is one of my favorite Architects of all, Frank Heyling Furness (November 12, 1839 – June 27, 1912), who was an American Architect of the Victorian era. He designed more than 600 buildings, most in the Philadelphia area, and is remembered for his eclectic, muscular, often idiosyncratically scaled buildings, and for his influence on the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Furness was also a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during the Civil War.

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Toward the end of his life, his bold style fell out of fashion, and many of his significant works were demolished in the 20th century. Among his most important surviving buildings are the University of Pennsylvania Library (now the Fisher Fine Arts Library), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, all in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Over his 45-year career, Furness designed more than 600 buildings, including banks, office buildings, churches, and synagogues. As chief architect of the Reading Railroad, he designed about 130 stations and industrial buildings. For the Pennsylvania Railroad, he designed the great Broad Street Station (demolished 1953) at Broad and Market Streets in Philadelphia, and, for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the ingenious 24th Street Station (demolished 1963) alongside the Chestnut Street Bridge. He was one of the most highly paid architects of his era, and a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. His residential buildings included numerous mansions in Philadelphia and its suburbs (especially the Main Line), as well as commissioned houses at the New Jersey seashore, Newport, Rhode Island, Bar Harbor, Maine, Washington, D.C., New York state, and Chicago, Illinois.

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Following decades of neglect, during which many of Furness’s most important buildings were demolished, there was a revival of interest in his work in the mid-20th century. The critic Lewis Mumford, tracing the creative forces that had influenced Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, wrote in The Brown Decades (1931): “Frank Furness was the designer of a bold, unabashed, ugly, and yet somehow healthily pregnant architecture.”

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Architect and critic Robert Venturi in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) wrote, not unadmiringly, of the National Bank of the Republic (later the Philadelphia Clearing House):

“The city street facade can provide a type of juxtaposed contradiction that is essentially two-dimensional. Frank Furness’ Clearing House, now demolished like many of his best works in Philadelphia, contained an array of violent pressures within a rigid frame. The half-segmental arch, blocked by the submerged tower which, in turn, bisects the facade into a near duality, and the violent adjacencies of rectangles, squares, lunettes, and diagonals of contrasting sizes, compose a building seemingly held up by the buildings next door: it is an almost insane short story of a castle on a city street.”

On the occasion of its centennial in 1969, the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects memorialized Furness as its great architect of the past:
“For designing original and bold buildings free of the prevalent Victorian academicism and imitation, buildings of such vigor that the flood of classical traditionalism could not overwhelm them, or him, or his clients …
For shaping iron and concrete with a sensitive understanding of their particular characteristics that was unique for his time …
For his significance as innovator-architect along with his contemporaries John Root, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright …
For his masterworks, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Provident Trust Company, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, and the University of Pennsylvania Library (now renamed the Furness Building) …
For his outstanding abilities as draftsman, teacher and inventor …
For being a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter and of the John Stewardson Memorial Scholarship in Architecture …
And above all, for creating architecture of imagination, decisive self-reliance, courage, and often great beauty, an architecture which to our eyes and spirits still expresses the unusual personal character, spirit and courage for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery on a Civil War battlefield.”

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Furness’s independence and modernist Victorian-Gothic style inspired 20th-century architects Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi. Living in Philadelphia and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, they often visited Furness’s Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts — built for the 1876 Centennial — and his University of Pennsylvania Library.

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The 2012 centennary of Furness’s death is being observed with exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Delaware Historical Society, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and elsewhere. On September 14, a Pennsylvania state historical marker was dedicated in front of Furness’s boyhood home at 1426 Pine Street, Philadelphia (now Peirce College Alumni Hall). Opposite the marker is Furness’s 1874-75 dormitory addition to the Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, now the Furness Residence Hall of the University of the Arts.

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Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
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The Architecture of Harry Weese

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Harry Weese & Associates built constantly from 1948 to 2000 but never reached the high profile of contemporaries like I.M. Pei and Philip Johnson. Weese’s architecture is highly original and often stunning, but has not been elevated into the late-modern canon alongside the less prolific work of Louis Kahn or Paul Rudolph (unlike them, Weese never taught at Yale). Yet Weese’s hundreds of built projects, unrelenting urban boosterism, and deep commitment to public life and preservation made him arguably more influential than any of his contemporaries.

Weese’s most poetic work includes a pair of churches built in the early 1960s: First Baptist of Columbus, Indiana, and St. Thomas in Neenah, Wisconsin. The latter is disappointingly undocumented in the book, save for a striking photograph that shows the church’s raw concrete and timber interior, as Weese described it, “Devoid of pomp, yet bold in belief; material luxuriousness, no; richness of space and light and sound, yes.”  It seems to match the best work of Marcel Breuer, who at the same time was also building spare, dramatic beton-brut churches in the upper Midwest. And slightly later, the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, resolved the constraints of an awkward triangular site on Wacker Drive by turning the rear of its large auditorium into a travertine-clad curve that holds its own against the backdrop of the Loop’s most famous skyscrapers.

Weese challenges Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in steel and glass as featured  here…. Shadowcliff, a corporate president’s vacation office: a glass box jutting out from a sheer rock cliff above Lake Michigan, hanging from castellated Corten beams anchored into the rock face. A horizontal porthole cut into the floor looks straight down. The other,Chicago’s Time-Life building, looks at first glance like a humorless corporate box, Weese’s own contribution to what he termed “the hard edge bar-graph of downtown.”

Click here to read the rest of the story: 

The Architecture of Harry Weese: Chicago modernist: Places: Design Observer.

Click here to learn more about Harry Weese:

http://www.architectmagazine.com/books/the-complexities-of-a-pioneer.aspx

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Sincererly,

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in CT, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA.


The Architecture of Peter Bohlin

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About a week after the death of Steve Jobs, I sat down for an interview with Peter Bohlin, Architect of Apple’s spectacular glass-walled retail stores. The subject of our interview was a new house designed by Bohlin in the Connecticut woods, but of course I could not help but ask about Jobs. “Steve helped me in these years to drive even harder,” Bohlin told me, speaking of Jobs’s relentless push for excellence. I had noticed in one of the countless postmortem articles a listing of Jobs’s patents, and this included the glass circular stair of the Apple stores. Had Jobs actually designed that? Bohlin just smiled. “What do you think?”

Click here to read the rest of the story: At Home at the Edge of the World: Observatory: Design Observer.

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Sincererly,

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in CT, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA.


Inspire (Spire)

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(Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)

(Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)

Associated Press

To cheers from spectators and workers alike, construction crews set a silver spire atop New York City’s One World Trade Center on Friday to bring the structure to its full 1,776 height and cap an emotional 12-year effort to restore a key part of the city skyline shattered by the 9/11 terror attacks.

The 408-foot spire, which weighs 758 tons, includes a broadcast antenna and a light that will be visible from miles away to serve as a both a beacon for aircraft and a permanent signal of triumph over extremists who jolted the city and the country.

“This really is a symbolic moment because this building really represents the resiliency of this country,” Port Authority Vice Chair Scott Rechler told TODAY’s Matt Lauer, who was perched on the 104th floor to witness the process. “These people, the thousand men and women who have worked here tirelessly, really as a tribute for the people that perished on 9-11 right on this site.”

The needle will be held in place by a temporary structure until iron workers finish off the permanent base in the coming weeks.

The 1,776 feet — or 541 meters — is symbolic of the year 1776, when the U.S. declared its independence.

The building is rising at the northwest corner of the site where the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The area is well on its way to reconstruction with the 72-story Four World Trade Center and other buildings.

The tower is slated to open for business in 2014. Tenants include the magazine publisher Conde Nast, the government’s General Services Administration and Vantone Holdings China Center, which will provide business space for international companies.

The elegant spire gives the building the extra height needed to claim the status as the tallest structure in the U.S. and the third-tallest in the world, although building experts dispute whether the spire is actually an antenna — a crucial distinction in measuring the building’s height.

Without the spire, the One World Trade Center would be looking up at the Willis Tower in Chicago, which tops out at 1,451 feet, not including its own antennas.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based organization considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building’s architectural design.

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


The TEN “Demandments” of Architecture by @WJMArchitect

Many architects feel like their devotion to the practice of architecture is like worship of a secular religion.

Here’s a little fun with our secular religion…

The TEN Demandments of Architecture
by William J. Martin, Architect

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  1.  Thou shalt have no clients before thee…
  2.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven 3D cadd images.
  3.  Thou shalt not take thy name of thy clients or thy engineers in vain.
  4.  Remember thy project deadline day, and  keep it holy.
  5.  Honor thy computer and thy coffee: that thy days may be long.
  6.  Thou shalt not kill thy design critics…
  7.  Thou shalt not commit building design insultery.
  8.  Thou shalt not steel, unless wood or masonry doesn’t support thy design.
  9.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy building inspector official.
  10.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s contractors…

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These are only the TEN Demandments, maybe you can think of a few more.  Leave a comment and let us know !

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


Two Hulls House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Two Hulls House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Nova Scotia, Canada - Photo by Clifford A. Pearson

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Between the Sea and the Sky: Evoking maritime images and experiences from the architects’ past, a house for a young family reaches out to the water.

By Clifford A. Pearson

Most architects say they start each project with a blank slate. Brian MacKay-Lyons, though, talks about creating a body of work over 27 years; he isn’t afraid of describing a new design as “consistent.” “You build on the shoulders of the project before, so you get a little better each time. I haven’t gotten tired of that,” says MacKay-Lyons, who practices with partner Talbot Sweetapple in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The architects stress “place, craft, and community” in shaping their buildings. In their part of the world that means “it’s always going to be a box,” states MacKay-Lyons, explaining that in a climate that shifts from freeze to thaw about 250 times a year, icicles will form on eaves and simple lines work best. “Then we cut openings in the box like Matta-Clark going at it with a chain saw.

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Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook