December 16, 2016
In the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church, December 16 is the feast day celebrating Richard Upjohn, Ralph Adams Cram, and John LaFarge for their contributions to church architecture.
Richard Upjohn (1802-1878) is credited with advancing the Gothic Revival style in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. He is among several architects of his era who produced vastly influential books of residential designs, which were copied from and adapted by builders across the country. Upjohn designed several dozen churches, primarily located in the eastern U.S.
Richard Upjohn buildings worked on by Vertical Access:
- St. Peter’s Church, Albany, NY (1876)
- Christ Church, Binghamton, NY (1855)
- Grace Church, Utica, NY (1856)
- Trinity Church, New York City (1846)
- Trinity Church, Princeton, NJ (1870)
Upjohn’s Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ
December 16 is the birthday of Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942). Working primarily in the Gothic Revival style, Cram designed many churches, academic and public buildings over a career spanning 40 years. Cram contributed to the “Collegiate Gothic” movement through his designs for Princeton University in the first decades of the twentieth century.
Ralph Adams Cram buildings worked on by Vertical Access:
- St. Thomas Church, New York City (1914)
- Cleveland Tower (1913) and Princeton University Chapel (1928), Princeton University
- Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City (ca. 1909)
- Cadet Chapel (1910) and Thayer Hall (1911), United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
- Park Avenue Christian Church, New York City (1911)
Cram’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City
John LaFarge (1835-1910) was a fine artist and writer who found success as a muralist and innovative stained glass designer. His murals and stained glass windows grace the interiors of churches and public buildings throughout the U.S. His son, Christopher Grant LaFarge, became an architect and produced the original Byzantine design for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, later redesigned in the Gothic Revival style by Ralph Adams Cram.
Buildings worked on by Vertical Access that feature works by John LaFarge:
- Trinity Church, Boston, MA (1877) Interior murals and stained glass windows by LaFarge
- St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, New York City (1907) Stained glass windows by LaFarge
- Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, NY (1888) Stained glass windows by LaFarge
The commission for Trinity Church, Boston launched La Farge’s career as a muralist
October 31, 2016
Vertical Access was contracted to assist Stephen J. Kelley, Inc. and Heritage Architecture Studio LLC with the assessment of the exterior building materials on the Tower by performing a hands-on and close visual survey of the exterior façades using rope access.
The Mid-Continent Tower is comprised of two distinct buildings: the Cosden Building and the Tower Building. Constructed in 1917, the fifteen-story Cosden Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an early concrete frame structure clad in cream-colored glazed terra cotta units. The Tower Building, constructed in 1984, is a thirty-six-story steel frame structure clad with a curtain wall of terra cotta/glass fiber reinforced concrete panels that mimics the design of the Cosden Building. It is cantilevered over the Cosden Building so that the two buildings appear to be one.
Photography by Stephen J. Kelley.
October 31, 2016
by Kevin Dalton
On a recent trip to Peru I had the opportunity to visit some of the ruins at Chan Chan, located in La Libertad province around the city of Trujillo. Built around 1200, Chan Chan served as the capital of the Chimu Kingdom until falling to the Incas around 1480. The city covered 20 square km, was the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and a monumental example of earthen architecture. At its height Chan Chan is believed to have had a population of around 60,000 people.
Due to the consistency of the swells in nearby Huanchaco, I was preoccupied with surfing for most of my time in the Trujillo area and only visited the Tschudi Complex, a relatively small section of the Chimu city. In all the city consisted of 9 walled citadels, or palaces, so there are several more interesting sights worth visiting.
Preservation efforts at the Tschudi Complex, which is the only section of Chan Chan that has been partially restored, are ongoing. Most of the architectural details are modern recreations though there are a few originals that remain. Due to its geographic location on the northern coast of Peru the ruins are susceptible to erosion from the heavy rains brought on by the El Niño phenomenon so much of the Tschudi Complex is now covered by a protective roof structure, which I found to be interesting in its own way. Upon returning to Huanchaco I immediately recognized some of the same architectural motifs at the Instituto del Mar del Peru, Laboratorio Costero de Huanchaco.
Besides being an important cultural site I think that Chan Chan is also a powerful example of ecological construction. It’s interesting to see how a 500+ year old city constructed of locally sourced, earthen material slowly returns to it’s original form leaving almost no trace of it’s existence. Try to imagine what a modern city will look like 500+ years from now.
October 28, 2016
Title screen shot from “El Architecto de Nueva York”
The biographical documentary, El Architecto de Nueva York, was honored with a Golden Dolphin Award at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards on October 13, 2016. Directed by Eva Vizcarra and produced by RTVE/Endora Producciones, the film won in the category of History and Civilization.
The accomplished life of Rafael Guastavino, an architect born in Valencia, Spain is the focus of this documentary. He emmigrated to the USA from Spain in 1881 and proceeded to design and build some of the most recognizable architectural gems of Manhattan – yet his name is still largely unrecognized. This award-winning film is a celebration of his life and brings long overdue awareness and enlightenment about his contributions to the architecture in cities worldwide.
The Vertical Access Connection
Kent Diebolt and Berta de Miguel guide viewers through Grand Central Station. Screen shot from “El Architecto de Nueva York”.
Kent Diebolt, and Berta de Miguel of Vertical Access are studied in the history of Rafael Guastavino – his vault construction techniques and his many architectural structures throughout the United States. Both appear in the film guiding viewers through iconic examples of his work in New York City such as Grand Central Terminal, the Guastavino Oyster Bar, Ellis Island and more. In 2013, Kent and Berta organized a hands-on tile vaulting construction workshop at the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) Annual Conference.
October 26, 2016
Test your knowledge of historic and iconic buildings in the U.S. (and beyond!) in this series of “guess the building” blog posts.
Series No. 9:
This challenge takes us to Canada. Originally built as a bank, this 12-story building’s upper floors are clad in terra cotta glazed to match the granite base. Perhaps you’ll recognize the iconic modern office tower in the background. Where is it?
Answer: One King Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Originally built as the Dominion Bank Building in 1914, this building was later converted to a hotel and condominiums. In the background of the first photo is Canada’s tallest building, First Canadian Place.
October 19, 2016
In October, Technical Services staff visited the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh to check in on an important step forward for the structure. The church, built in 1835, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and is a National Historic Landmark. The League named the Dutch Reformed Church a “Seven to Save” site for 2016-17 and is working with the City of Newburgh and local preservation advocates to make a stabilization, preservation, and re-use plan for the building.
In 2012, the sanctuary ceiling collapsed, crushing the pews inside and destroying additional important interior features. Because the condition of the building rapidly declined after the ceiling collapse, a complete structural analysis of the upper trusses and roof was absolutely necessary in developing a plan to save the building. But how could we complete this inspection and analysis when the building’s condition was so dangerous?
CONTINUE READING … Notes from the Field – Preservation League of New York State
September 30, 2016
Once celebrated for their innovative design, important modern buildings around the world are now at risk, endangered due to neglect, inappropriate alterations, deterioration, and, often, demolition. For the last two decades, the World Monuments Watch has called attention to threatened modern sites as a key issue in the field of heritage preservation. This presentation will offer an overview of the modern sites featured on the Watch since 1996. Register by October 10 at Archtober 2016 | World Monuments Fund