Friday Finds: Church Bells

ToThe Art of the Church Coverday’s Friday Find is H. B. Walters’ Church Bells, from The Arts of the Church, a book series focusing on “the various arts which have clustered round the public worship of God in the Church of Christ” (pg. vii).  This volume in particular focuses on church bells, how they are made, their decoration, care, and their melodies.

Walters begins with a brief history of bells and their use in churches. He writes that “ancient bells were invariably dedicated with elaborate ceremonies, and were baptized with the name of the saint or other person after whom they were named…so as to be set apart from all secular uses” (pg. 6).  Walters then explains the process of casting a bell, the different kinds of big bells, uses and customs of bells, and specifically the history of bells in England.  The description of the decoration and inscription of bells is especially fascinating – he points out that “we [the English] do not as a rule find them as highly ornamented as foreign bells…but to some the greater soberness of the English method may seem preferable” (pg. 105).  This kind of national pride is present throughout the book.  Walters’ assertions of British superiority are hardly surprising when considering that Art of the Church - Page 1 when the book was originally published in 1908, the influence of the British Empire was beginning to wane and be challenged.

The use has grown beyond churches – bells can be heard on college campuses, in clock towers, and some even hold great historical significance (e.g. the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). They do not hold the same solemnity and religious association that they held when Walters wrote Church Bells, but they are no less iconic and recognizable an architectural feature.  The inclusion of bells in architecture makes a statement about the building too – it is meant to be heard from a distance, to draw people in as they hear the bells. The bells add an audial component to architecture, a primarily visual art; in a fashion, it is the architect and the building inviting those nearby to enjoy the beauty of the sights and sounds.

New Books: Place

Harney, Marion. Place-Making for the Imagination: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill. Burlington: Ashgate Limited, 2013. Print.

Pasic, Amir, Borut Juvanec, and Jose Luis Moro, eds. The Importance of Place: Values and Building Practices in the Historic Urban Landscape. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2016. Print.

Among the new books this week, there were several focusing on the theme of “place.”  Notably, Marion Harney’s Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place, edited by Amir Pasic, Borut Juvanec, and Jose Luis Moro.

In Place-Making for the Imagination, Harney CoverHarney explores the history, landscape, architecture, and intellectual background of Horace Walpole’s villa, Strawberry Hill.  She evaluates “the villa and the landscape…as an entity” and argues that “Strawberry Hill embodies an entirely different set of ideas [from nineteenth-century Gothic Revival] to which the key lies in the cultural pursuits and theories of imaginative pleasure that Walpole engaged with” (pg. xiv).  Harney makes use of Walpole’s writing and the historical context to alter conceptions of Walpole’s inspiration for Strawberry Hill, as well as to consider the setting of the villa as a crucial component of its architecture and identity.

The Importance of Place features articles presented at the fifth International Conference on Hazards and Modern Heritage held in Sarajevo, called “The Importance of Place.”  The conference Importance of Place Coverdiscussed “the relationship of places to each other, their architecture, and their experience with memory” and “the position of contemporary architecture in the historic urban landscape” (pg. ix).  The articles themselves cover a wide array of subjects, including management strategies for urban areas, innovation in Italian architecture in the twentieth-century, conservation, and case studies.  Almost all directly discuss Sarajevo or Bosnia and Herzegovina, creating an ideal environment for the attendees to discuss and consider the challenges of Sarajevo in particular: a fifteenth-century city ravaged by war from 1992-1995, now adapting and seeking to blend its history with modern needs.

Both Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place contemplate the history and settings of architectural features. The interaction between setting and architecture is a crucial component of what makes a place.  Architecture is influenced by the setting, and the setting is forever changed by the architecture.  The landscape is a place in its own right, as is the building, but only when taken together can the totality of the place become clear.

New Book: Global Undergrounds

Dobraszczyk, Paul, Carlos Lopez Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett, eds. Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London: Reaktion, 2016. Print.

Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within, edited by Paul Dobraszczyk, Carlos Lopez Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett features short pieces from the authors and other experts discussing the world beneath cities.  True to the title, the book explores cities from Los Angeles to Pyongyang and everywhere between.

In the preface, Geoff Manaugh highlights that “we live amid interpenetrating systems of space, knotted topologies that do not immediately reveal Global Undergrounds Cover 4themselves but, instead, lurk in the shadows, under streets, below grade” (pg. 9).  He adds “sometimes the space itself is the heritage…it is history from below” (pg. 12).  From there, Global Undergrounds launches into discussion of how these underground spaces were used as homes and places of safety, as well as the representation in literature, and underground metro systems around the world.  For example, Alexandros Tsakos writes of the Cairo Metro: “[it] is now infused with fear of civil unrest, political violence, and revolution…the metro is notorious for its sexual discrimination…were these underground spaces truly a refuge from the turmoil above ground?” (pg. 217).  Tsakos highlights that while the underground world in Cairo is distinct from the city above, the problems and dangers above permeate the tunnels too.

Global Undergrounds provides a fascinating exploration of the spaces beneath cities around the world.  Everyday people walk past or even on covered manholes, sewage pipes, and storm drains, but many never think about the world beneath their feet.  They know it is there, but the attention remains on the high-rise buildings reaching for the sky above.  Little thought is given to the vast world below and the intrigues it holds.

New Books 1937 Edition

While undertaking research for an upcoming exhibit at the Architecture and Planning Library, Nancy Sparrow discovered an article in The Daily Texan from 1937 entitled, “New Art Books On Architecture Library Shelves” (Vol. 38, February 26, 1937, pg. 1, 3). She sent me a copy of the article, knowing how much I would enjoy reading it. The article listed 10 new titles to the Architecture Library. Curious to know if the books were still part of the collection, I did a bit of looking. I identified 9 of the 10; however, not all remain as part of the Architecture and Planning Library’s collections.

Two of the books are still part of APL’s onsite collections, so I decided to pull them from the stacks.

Hoffman, Malvina. Heads and Tales. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1936. (General collection)

hoffmanThe 1937 article offers a brief description of the work. According to the author: In “Heads and Tales” Malvina Hoffman, American sculptress, tells of her experiences in following her career over the world. It contains photographs of sculpture and of life in various parts of the world, particularly in Africa (“New Art Books On Architecture Library Shelves,” The Daily Texan, February 26, 1937, 1 and 3, accessed 2/6/2917). Hoffman offers a biographical narrative documenting her work on the statues for the Hall of Man in the Field Museum in Chicago.  She writes of her commission –

Sudden vistas of remote islands and mysterious horizons flooded over my imagination – escape from city life, discovery of new worlds, conflict with the elements. Infinite new windows of life seemed to open before me.

What lay beyond those windows is set down in this book, which describes my adventures and experiences of “head-hunting” in the near and far corners of the earth – and how the hundred racial types in the “Hall of Man” of the Field Museum in Chicago were selected and modelled on the road. (Hoffman, Heads and Tales, 3).

Unaware of Malvina Hoffman or her work until today, I undertook a quick search in the catalog and jstor looking for recent scholarship about the artist. You might consider Marianne Kinkel’s book, Races of Mankind: the Sculpture of Malvina Hoffman or Rebecca Peabody’s article, “Race and Literary Sculpture in Malvina Hoffman’s Heads and Tales,” in the Getty Research Journal (vol. 5, 2013, 119-132).

 Lawrie, Lee. Sculpture. Cleveland, Ohio: J. H. Jansen, 1936. (Special Collections)

 APL has two copies of Sculpture, one in off site storage and copy two lawrieheld in Special Collections. The second copy was a gift by Arthur E. Thomas. While copy two was immediately accessible in Special Collections, the first copy is probably the new book identified in The Daily Texan.

Like Hoffman, Lee Lawrie offers Sculpture as documentation of his work. He provides 48 plates and a brief introduction, which he uses to express his opinion about modern sculpture. He concludes –

Also it is not meant that a sculptor cannot be a creator. Although no new ways of designing and modelling are available, the personal characteristics that stamp each sculptor’s work, when applied to an original theme and architectural problem, make it a creation. What will be done when the sculptors have full play with the tremendous and dramatic themes that are to be recorded of our age and scene can only be imagined. The opportunity for this expression will no doubt bring forth works equal to those of the great monuments of the past. (Foreword, pg. 2)

While not familiar with Lawrie by name, I did recognize his work as I looked through the plates – more familiar with the buildings themselves. While a contemporary of Hoffman, I was struck by their stylistically different approaches to sculpture rather than those governed by medium or type.

Friday Finds: Architecture, Nature, and Magic

As always, part of the joy of Fridays are Friday Finds! In the hot seat today is W.R. Lethaby’s Architecture, Nature, and Magic.  The book was originally published in 1892 under the name Architecture, Mysticism, and Myth, though Lethaby rewrote (and renamed) it in 1928 for The Builder. Lethaby - Cover Page This book is a 1956 compilation of the articles from The Builder.  Lethaby writes that “at the inner heart of ancient building were wonder, worship, magic, and symbolism,” forming part of his main thesis that “nature…was the source of much of what is called architectural decoration…[and] thought of magical properties generally had a very wide and deep influence on the development of ancient building customs” (pg. 16).

Architecture, Nature, and Magic is organized geographically, with close attention paid to chronology, as well.  For example, in the chapter on the Far East, Lethaby traces the history of the tope, “a circular monument like a half sphere, or taller, usually having a spire-like erection on the top” (pg. 66-67).  Originally, “topes were either erected to the celestial Buddha or over relics and sacred sites,” while “later topes in farther Asia are understood to be the imitations of the celestial mountains” (pg. 67-69).  Lethaby then moves chronologically and intertwines cultural mythology with the architecture of the region, as well as the evolution of architectural features.  He follows this essential formula in the other chapters, including discussions of Egypt, Western influences, temples, palaces, and more.

Lethaby concludes that “all the arts had their origin in efforts to satisfy the needs of the body and the mind…the greater buildings were not Lethaby - pageonly for ritual purposes, but they themselves were embodied magic” (pg. 147).  He makes a fascinating argument that without this magical element, humans would have been satisfied with architecture only serving their immediate physical needs.

What inspired people to build beautiful structures when a simple one would suffice?  For all its practicality, there is an artistry and focus on aesthetics in architecture that goes beyond the utility of the structure.  This desire for beauty is a human phenomenon, spanning time and geography.  Why?  There is likely no one answer, if indeed there are any at all.  Maybe there is something inexplicable that drew early architects to aim for more than functionality – perhaps their ideas needed just a touch of magic.

New Book: The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History

Unwin, Simon. The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History: Architecture’s Archetypes. New York: Routledge, 2017. Print.

Unwin - Book CoverDr. Simon Unwin’s newest book, The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History: Architecture’s Archetypes, identifies ten architectural archetypes that have influenced and inspired architects for centuries.  The ten archetypes are standing stone, stone circles, dolmen, hypostyle, temple, theatre, courtyard, labyrinth, the vernacular, and ruin.

Unwin writes in the introduction that “this book is about architecture’s ancient underpinnings…[and] brings the past (in some cases the very ancient past) into the present to find ideas that have influenced architects through history and explore how those archetypal ideas remain relevant now” (pg. 5).  He begins with a brief overview of the basic elements of architecture before devoting the remainder of the book to the ten archetypes.  In these sections Unwin goes into great detail on the architecture, history, and present day applications of the archetypes.  For example, in his chapter on hypostyle halls, Unwin discusses the architectural purpose of the columns to support the ceiling before explaining that the “hypostyle is an analogue of the forest…[and] a place without hierarchy,” as well as a place for wandering without any specified direction (pg. 97).  He gives examples of Egyptian and Persian hypostyle halls, describing the functionality and style of the halls, followed by some examples of architectural work today inspired by the hypostyle.

Unwin highlights these ten archetypes that have stood the test of time.  He succinctly covers vast amounts of architectural history and provides analysis, explanation, and drawings to highlight the influence and importance of these archetypes.  Unwin provides the necessary foundation for architects to be knowledgeable and think critically about the architectural features from the past on which they sometimes rely for inspiration.

Drop in to the library to see more of this week’s new books!

New Books at APL: Gifts for Special Collections

Last fall a generous donation was made to UT Libraries that provided APL the opportunity to purchase materials to enhance our Special Collections. Katie and I selected three books to compliment our southern architecture collection that includes Southern Architect and Building News.

Anniston City Directory, 1889-1890: A General Directory of the Citizens, Directory of the Churches, Societies, Associations, and Miscellaneous Information. Sketches of the Rise and Progress of the Leading Industries, Illustrations and a Complete History the Model City of the South. Anniston, Alabama: G. H. Norwood, 1889.

The title of this book caught our eye with its reference to Anniston, Alabama as a model city, especially during this period of history in the South.  While more than half the book is a city directory – which someone has updated and annotated in pencil – the last third is a description of the town with illustrations of several of its buildings. The description includes Anniston’s industries, climate, and praise from various individuals. It would be quite interesting to search Southern Architect and Building News for Anniston in order to understand how the model city is represented or not represented in SABN.

Official Views: Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta 1895. Issued by the official photographic company. Negatives by C.D. Arnold. St. Louis: C. B. Woodward Printing, 1895.

Official Views was particularly interesting to us, because APL does not currently own any Southern Architect and Building News from 1895 – though APL does have a few that predate it. While I cannot speculate on how Southern Architect might have covered the Cotton States and International Exposition, the Official Views includes photographs of individual buildings, general views of the fair, the Midway, fairgoers, and peoples or cultures on display. The work consists only of photographs and lacks accompanying text or a plan of the fair. I was surprised that only four state buildings are documented – Georgia, Alabama, New York, and Pennsylvania. Architecturally, the style of the fair appears mixed. Some of the main buildings evoke Jeffersonian architectural ideals, while those on the Midway are fantastical or call to mind far away lands.

W. T. Downing. Domestic Architecture. Atlanta: Franklin Print. and Pub. Co., 1897.

Domestic ArchitectureDomestic Architecture consists of plans and photographs that document the residential work of W. T. Downing, acting as his portfolio. He also included advertisements in addition to the plans and photographs. He writes: “…only firms that have done work or furnished materials for me and whom I can recommend have been permitted to insert cards” (Introduction, pg. 15). I find the inclusion of advertisements, which are predominantly from Atlanta, particularly important, as it helps to document the building network around W. T. Downing during this period. Again, one might compare both the representation of W. T. Downing and each of the advertisements to that of Southern Architect.

Friday Finds: Pencil Points, Vol. XV

Pencil Points - Cover SheetIt’s Friday again, and that means it’s time for Friday Finds!  Today’s featured player from Special Collections  is Pencil Points Volume XV from 1934.   Pencil Points was published monthly from 1920-1943 and became one of the premier architectural journals, including plans, sketches, articles, and letters from architects in the United States and Europe.

The article topics range from architectural history to appraisal instructions.  Recurring segments appear, such as “Ripley’s Recipes” by Hubert G. Ripley, which discusses recipes for cocktails and food alike, as well as “New York and Its Plans” by Francis S. Swales.  “New York and Its Plans” analyzes the layout and architecture of New York City.  Swales makes the argument that “New York was not planned to be a great or beautiful city, but as the biggest land subdivision on earth,” and that changes must be made to the city in order to adapt it to current needs (pg. 353).

In addition to the beautiful etchings and plans, the historical context of 1934 makes the issues particularly fascinating.   Approximately one year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, the recovery Pencil Points - Detail Drawingfrom the Great Depression remained slow but persistent. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies are very much present in Pencil Points.  The Sketch Club of Chicago wrote a piece recommending improvements to the National Industrial Recovery Act, including proposing that “the minimum rate of pay for designers, draftsmen, specification writers, superintendents, and other technical employees shall be not less than $15 per week of 35 hours” (pg. Pencil Points - Watercolor46).   Another piece includes an interview of James A. Moffett, Administrator of the National Housing Act, another staple  of the New Deal, which focuses entirely on the impact of the Act on architects.  Moffett told the editors that “‘the success of the whole undertaking may be fairly said to depend on how active the architects are in furthering the movement to modernize existing buildings and build new houses'” (pg. 373).

Through this historical lens, the importance of architects in bringing back the American economy and jobs becomes clear, as a major aspect of the New Deal was building projects.  With the beginning of the recovery depicted in these 1934 journals, the importance and creativeness of architects (as well as the push to modernize) shine; there is a palpable excitement about the growing job opportunities and potential influence of architects in changing American homes and cities that permeates the 1934 Pencil Points.Pencil Points - Venice

 

 

New Book: Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire

Bremner, G. A., ed. Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Bremner CoverDr. G. A. Bremner presents the first comprehensive resource on architecture and urban planning in the British Empire in this companion to the Oxford History of the British Empire.   The survey spans from thematic elements of imperial and colonial architecture to the specific implementation of those plans, as well as the “local variation” of architecture across the Empire.  Bremner writes in the introduction, “colonialism was all but impossible without the buildings and spaces that articulated its presence…this naturally has consequences for how any post-colonial nation state imagines both its past and future” (pg. 1-2).

While not complete in its overview, Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire serves as an introduction to the major themes of imperial and colonial architecture and planning.  The contributors cover a wide range of topics, including the planning of colonial cities, the use of monuments to establish dominance and authority, and close studies of British imperial architecture in colonies (North America, India, Australia, and Africa, among others).

Bremner and the contributors highlight the British use of urban planning and architecture to assert control over the empire, and many of those buildings remain standing today, revealing the permanence of British influence through its architecture.  This raises a fascinating, perplexing question – did the sun ever truly set on the British Empire?

Come by the library to check out this book or any of the others that arrived this week!

 

Welcome Back – New Books to Start Your Semester!

LongLong, Christopher. The New Space: Movement and Experience in Viennese Modern Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

One of the new books I wanted to highlight this week is Christopher Long’s new book on modern architecture in Vienna, The New Space. He writes in the introduction:

My project, however, is an effort to suggest a different reading of their spatial programs, one that does not entirely replace the old one, but seeks to offer a significant amendment: that a core part of the spatial explorations of all three architects [Strnad, Frank, and Loos] had to do not only with the design or configuration of spaces, but the ways in which the experience of space through movement might affect the viewer or inhabitant. (pg. xiii)

Congratulations to Professor Long on his new book!

GIliGili, Oberto and Marella Caracciolo Chia. Domus: A Journey into Italy’s Most Creative Interiors. New York: Rizzoli, 2016.

I selected to highlight this book for our students in Interior Design. Marella Caracciolo Chia writes of hers and Oberto Gili’s inspiration for this book:

The concept of rooms that reveal a good story is what this book is essentially about. Oberto Gili and I started talking about recording our “journey” through these “narrative interiors” ever since we met in 1993… We discovered many beautiful interiors but what stayed with us were the ones belonging to highly creative individuals. Domus plays tribute to Italy’s centuries-old tradition of using arts and crafts to create masterful interiors. (pgs. 10-11)

Stop in today to check these works out as well as the many others that arrived this week!

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