A Pictorial Blog of Things I Make,
Items I Collect, Architecture I Love,
and Other Stuff

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Modernism in the Midwest

 Collegeville, Minn.: Saint John's Abbey and University Church (1961) by Marcel Breuer.

 Cincinnati Union Terminal (1933) by Fellheimer & Wagner. Alfred T. Fellheimer was also lead architect on the design team for New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

Columbus, Ind.: Miller House (1957) by Eero Saarinen.

Interior design is by Alexander Girard. In 2008 the estate of J. Irwin Miller and Xenia Simons Miller donated the home to the Indianopolis Museum of Art. Tickets go on sale April 1 for the first public tours, which start in May. Through the kind indulgence of the Millers (after having written them a letter), I was in 1999 able to visit their home and its extraordinary grounds, which were laid out by Dan Kiley.

 Chicago: The residential tower Aqua (2009) by Studio Gang. At 859 feet, it is the Windy City's 12th tallest building as well as the world's tallest building to have a woman as lead architect, Jeanne Gang. 

 Creve Coeur, Mo.: Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis (1962) by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, with the Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi serving as consultant.

 Milwaukee: War Memorial Center (1957) by Eero Saarinen (very obviously inspired by Le Corbusier). The mosaic on the western facade (at left) is by Wisconsin artist Edmund Lewandowski and is composed of 1.4 million pieces of marble and glass.

 Chicago: Charnley-Persky House (1892) by Louis Sullivan, aided by a junior draftsman in his firm--a fella named Frank Lloyd Wright, who called it "the first modern house in America." That's because it bypassed European historical styles (Tutor, Romanesque, Greek Revival et alia) in favor of pure abstract forms. 

 The interior is blessedly devoid of Victorian-era foofaraw--though the fireplace surround is rather jazzy.

 Rockford, Ill.: Unitarian Church (1966) by Pietro Belluschi and C. Edward Ware.

 Dwight, Ill.: First National Bank (1905) by Frank Lloyd Wright. Renouncing the Classical style that trimmed practically every financial institution of the time, Wright wanted a bank that didn't "put on the airs of a temple of worship." The bank has a signature Wrightian feature--a fireplace, most peculiar, then as now, for an office building. 

 The bank has undergone interior renovations but on the outside remains virtually unchanged for more than a century.

 Chicago: Lake Point Tower (1968) by George D. Schipporeit and John C. Heinrich, former students and employees of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

 Owatonna, Minn.: National Farmers' Bank (1908) by Louis Sullivan.

 In 1981 the post office honored the bank (now a Wells Fargo) with this stamp.

 Racine, Wis.: S. C. Johnson Company Administration Building (1939) and Research Tower (1950) by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Louisville, Ky.: Kaden Tower (1965) by William Wesley Peters of Taliesin Associated Architects, inheritors of the practice of Frank Lloyd Wright, who died in 1959. Note the exterior elevator. The grillwork evokes the jali of traditional Mughal architecture and also serves to reduce the solar heat-gain of its warm location--not in the Midwest, strictly speaking, but just below the Ohio River.
To see further examples, visit: Modernism in the Midwest & Yet More Modernism in the Midwest

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yet Further Selections From My Collection of Mall Post Cards

 New England's first two-level enclosed mall, the Rhode Island Mall in Warwick opened in October 1967 with 60 shops. These days there are four: LensCrafters, GNC, First Place Sports and The Toy Vault.

 Opened on April 10, 1962, Midtown Plaza in Rochester, N.Y., was the first downtown indoor mall in the U.S. Locked shut permanently on December 31, 2008, and demolished in late 2010, it was designed by Victor Gruen (1903-1980), who--because of his pioneering and contagious mall scheme--has been termed the 20th-century's most influential architect.

 The focal point of Midtown Plaza was the Clock of Nations, where shoppers flocked each hour and half-hour to witness mechanized marionettes cut loose to the music of 12 countries (one of them being Puerto Rico). Designed by Geri Kavanaugh, the clock now has a home at the Rochester Airport. 

 Orlando's Mall at Colonial Plaza Shopping Center opened around 1960 as the area's first enclosed air-conditioned shopping venue. 

 Here's another view of Colonial Plaza, described as a "Tropi-Colonial" setting. Along with palm trees, there were lanterns hanging from the ceiling tiles and iron-work around the fountain--nods to the Colonial? The mall closed in 1995. 

Southdale Center in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina opened in 1956 as the world's first fully-enclosed mall and was designed by the aforementioned Victor Gruen. An immigrant from Austria, Gruen lamented the lack of European-manner meeting squares in his adopted land and modeled the mall after them--a rendezvous point where suburbanites who had disconnected from downtown could congregate to eat and drink, rub shoulders, go to a movie and, of course, shop--all in American-style climate-controlled comfort.

 This 1960s mall in Hollywood, Fla., is nowadays filled with offices, including a 90,000-sq.-ft. call center.

 Original named simply "The Mall," this mid-century agora is located between Elmira and Corning, N.Y., and is today known as the Arnot Mall. It is three times larger than when this image was captured in the early 1970s.

 When it opened in 1963 northwest of Philadelphia, King of Prussia Plaza was just a modest open-air shopping mall anchored by J.C. Penney. Greatly expanded, the King of Prussia Mall (as it's now called) is the largest mall on the East Coast and has three Sunglass Huts, three Auntie Anne's Pretzels, two Coach stores, two Body Shops, two Victoria's Secrets, two H&M's, three Talbots, two Starbucks, two General Nutrition Centers, three AT&T stores, two Teavanas and two GameStop stores. Ah, America.

 Opened in 1962, Thomas Mall in Phoenix is long gone but in its heyday had aquaria and bird cages (like the one on the right) to engross its visitors--especially male ones.
To look at more malls, visit: Selections From My Collection of 1960s Mall Postcards: "Waiting for Godot" Series & Selections From My Collection of Mall Postcards: Water Feature Series & More Mall Postcards: Stairs and Balconies & Still More Selections From My Collection of Mall Post Cards

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mid-Century Manhattan Churches

Most of Manhattan's nearly 1,000 churches are faithful to the sanctioned look for a house of worship--but not the Greater Refuge Temple. Designed in 1966 by Costas Machlouzarides, it proudly preens at 2081 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

   246 East 15th Street: Designed in 1966 by Brother Cajetan J. B. Baumann (yes, a priest-slash-architect), the arched façade of St. Mary's Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite enfolds . . .   

 . . . a kaleidoscopic interior of triple-height stained glass. 

 619 Lexington Avenue: Watched over by the the Citigroup Center, Manhattan's seventh tallest skyscraper, is St. Peter's Church, the edifice on the bottom left designed in 1977 by Hugh Stubbins & Associates. Some say the design evokes two hands in prayer; others, a majestic rock that affirms the deity's presence in the heart of the city.

 An organ constructed by Johannes Kalis Orgelbau of Bonn dominates the sanctuary at St. Peter's. The red-oak case is 18 feet square and stands 10 feet above the floor.

The needlepoint pew cushions were designed by Massimo and Lella Vignelli, who also designed the iconic signage for the New York City Subway.
(To see more Vignelli design, visit: My New York City Subway Button Card)

Part of St. Peter's is the intimate 28-by-21-foot Erol Beker Chapel of the Good Shepherd, a sculptural environment by Louise Nevelson.
815 Second Avenue: On the ground floor of a humdrum building housing the Episcopal Church Center is the Chapel of Christ the Lord, dating from 1961 and designed by Adams & Woodbridge. Gabriel Loire of Chartres created the nonrepresentational stained-glass windows. 

 373 Second Avenue: Church of the Epiphany by Belfatto & Pavarini.

 The sanctuary remains true to the day it opened in 1967.

 777 First Avenue: The façade of the Tillman Chapel of 1963 displays a sculpture by Benoit Gilsoul entitled Man's Search for Peace. The center of this arresting composition shows the all-knowing eye of the Almighty.

 The divine eyeball is more obvious inside, where the stained-glass window by Henry Lee Willet can better be appreciated.

315 East 47th Street: The Church of the Holy Family--with its blind façade embossed with Greek crosses--was designed in 1965 by George J. Sole.
 The ceiling of the narthex (or church lobby) has nifty fixtures.

 459 West 149th Street: The Church of the Crucifixion of 1967 by Costas Machlouzarides. Note the way the cross pierces the aerodynamic roof like an hors d'oeuvre pick.

Oft noted is how the Church of the Crucifixion calls to mind Le Corbusier's Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp of 1954. I took this picture on November 25, 2005.
To see another mid-century Manhattan church, visit: First-Class Relics in Manhattan
To see more modernism in New York City, visit: Off-the-Beaten-Path Modernism in N.Y.C. & Ten Mid-Cen Gems in Manhattan & Modernist Townhouses in Manhattan

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Stamps

 In 1964 pop artist Robert Indiana (né Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana) created LOVE for a Museum of Modern Art gift-shop holiday card. In 1973 this forceful composition of color and typography served as the design of the first U.S. love stamp. 

 So in love am I with the look of LOVE, it has been on a screen in my living room for the past 14 years.

 Though the Indiana stamp was a beloved crowd-pleaser, it took nine years before the post office issued a second love stamp--this one, in 1982.

 Here is the stamp on an envelope I made to send to my mother long, long ago.

 Since 1982 the post office has usually put out at least one new love stamp every year. This pair is from 1984.

The post office teamed with the Hershey Chocolate Co. for the 23rd love stamp, issued in 2007.

 This 2004 stamp used Conversation Hearts, which the New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO) has manufactured by the billions since the mid-1800s.

 More palatable, design-wise, is this pair of 2009 love stamps, based on 18th-century French playing cards.

 The newest love stamps--a se-tenant set of ten called the Garden of Love--will be issued on May 19 and were designed by José Ortega, who also designed the Love and Kisses stamp above.  
To see more love-related stamps, visit: French Valentine Stamps