Jean Nouvel's 100 11th Avenue is all about the windows. Make what you like of the fact that only the west and south facades are clad in the iconic windows and that the neighbor to the north is a women's correctional facility (hey, this is NYC, what do you expect?). You can't help but notice that despite the criticism, the place shines like a diamond. I like this new addition to what is fast becoming starchitect row (Gehry, Ban, Selldorf)--I just hope the window washers get a little extra coin for their work on this one.
In 1868, when Cass was nine years old the family left Ohio to join his father, who was working as a surveyor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Samuel Gilbert died soon after the family’s arrival in Minnesota.
Elizabeth Gilbert made sure Cass and his two brothers would complete the schooling they had begun in Ohio. In 1876, Cass entered an apprenticeship as draftsman in the office of Abraham Radcliffe, a St. Paul architect. This is where he began his long friendship with fellow architect Clarence Johnston, Sr.
In 1878, Cass entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture under William Robert Ware. He completed one year of the two-year program. In the summer of 1879, he worked as a surveyor to earn money for his “Grand Tour” of Europe.
On January 3, 1880, Cass Gilbert left New York City for Liverpool, England, with $420.00. For almost a year he made his way through the countrysides and cities of picturesque England, France, and Italy. He sketched architectural features that he would later use in many of his designs.
Disappointed that he could not secure employment in London, Cass Gilbert returned to New York in September 1880 and went to work for the prestigious architecture firm of McKim, Mead and White, serving as Stanford White’s assistant.
In 1882, he returned to St. Paul, Minnesota. He represented the interests of McKim, Mead and White in the West and began his Minnesota architecture career. He kept offices in the Gilfillan Block, the same building as his boyhood friends Clarence Johnston and James Knox Taylor who had also returned to St. Paul from New York City.
In 1883, Gilbert completed his first residential work in St. Paul- his mother’s house at 471 Ashland Avenue.
In 1885, he formed a partnership with James Knox Taylor. Together their office would build residences, churches, office buildings, railroad stations and commercial buildings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Montana.
In 1891, Gilbert and Knox dissolved their partnership. Gilbert went out on his own and continued his St. Paul work.
In 1895, Cass Gilbert was selected to design the new state capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gilbert knew this would be the job to bring him national attention and would make his architectural career.
In 1899, Gilbert won the commission for the U.S. Custom House in New York. He opened his New York office and moved there the same year. His St. Paul office would remain open until 1910.
Gilbert would go on to build many buildings in New York including the West Street Building, the New York Life Insurance Company Building, the New York County Lawyers Association Building, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the U.S. Courthouse.
In 1913, Gilbert completed the Woolworth Building in New York City. It would stand as the world’s tallest building for over a decade. His career continued all over America. He worked on the capitol in Arkansas, and he designed the West Virginia Capitol. His last building was the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C.
--From The Cass Gilbert Society
I shoot a lot when I travel. Why? Firstly because I relish being a photographer in new and exciting environments and secondly because you really never know when or if you will return to your destination.
As Promised, Part 2 of the TWA terminal restoration photographs.
“Saarinen was a shape-giver,” Tor recalls. “He was always searching for the right form for the building involved…and sometimes the structural aspects of his work did not easily fall into logical engineering solutions. You had to kind of argue your way into it; so there was always a certain element of tension, but it was the kind of tension that brought out the possibility of creative solutions and compromises.”
While the skylights were an example of the creative solutions developed for the building, Tor recalls that there were certain times where Saarinen’s “form-giving” overrode engineering considerations. “As a designer, Saarinen was very honest about his vision for a building. [So I found that] the way [to work] with him was to tell him that the following design features have such-and-such implications and then leave the decision to him,” notes Tor. “One had to be honest both ways. He had to be honest with me and I had to be honest with him.”
Today, Tor is an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. He co-teaches a course called Advanced Building Systems, which he describes as an “introduction to the real world.” The studio course gives students a defined project scope, including the building’s footprint, function, height, etc., and asks them to develop, up to a certain level, the technological aspects of the building, i.e. the structure, air-handling systems, and curtainwall. Tor explains that the course is meant to teach architects to think along with the consulting engineer, a skill that he has certainly mastered.
During a project with Kahn, Tor came to the defense of his craft after Kahn, in a moment of exasperation at being told what he could or could not do, had declared "you engineers are all the same; you are like sausage cutters!" "I said to him, 'Lou, we are not sausage cutters, we are more like the male dancers in a classical ballet. Sometimes we jump and soar, and other times we stand there firmly on the stage and when we see the ballerina take the big leap we catch her in mid-air, we turn her around, and we make sure that she lands gracefully and doesn’t fall on her face.'" And as you look at the TWA Terminal you can see exactly what he means.
--From The National Building Museum
Take a look at Part 1.