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designs based upon pure classic formulas, the which ceremony and state become secondary principle of symmetry — that is, of a balanced to considerations of comfort and convenience. correspondence of parts on each side of a center With the exception of the Administration line — must govern the disposition of the masses Building, which is a compact, domical cominto which, in order to form an articulate com- position, like the front of the Invalides, all the position, each façade should be divided. The larger structures of the Exposition have a great greater the dignity and importance of the build- extension of length in comparison to their avering, the more absolute and uncompromising age height, the former varying from 700 to 1700 must be the application of this principle. The feet, and the latter from 40 to 60. The appli
cation of the principle of symmetry to these has resulted uniformly in a central pavilion of some sort, and in a corner pavilion of varying importance on each angle of the façades. This remark does not apply to the Transportation and Fisheries buildings, which are not classic in form or intention. Between these pavilions there are intermediate spaces known ascurtain-walls, the architectural character of which depends on a continuous repetition of bays, developed from the interior structure, and constituting the characteristic mass of the frontage, to which the three pavilions serve as points of emphasis and relief.
But it will be found Kenyon Cox. 1892 - After photographe from refinished plantera
that this arrangement of the several buildings
is not only the result monument must be evident as the orderly re- of the common observance of an abstract prinsult of forethought, and not as a growth from ciple of design, but follows from an obvious a succession of unexpected contingencies. It necessity of the plan in each case, from the must embody the idea of a harmonious devel- mutual relations of neighboring structures, and opment of structure from beginning to end, so from considerations of the most convenient inexactly adjusted, and so carefully proportioned gress and egress. in respect to its elements, that nothing can be It will be remembered that the architects of added to or taken from it without sensibly affect- the five buildings surrounding the great court, ing the composite organism as a whole. The which have the closest architectural relations, test of the completeness of a classic design re- agreed, for the sake of securing a harmonious sides in its sensitiveness to change—a sensitive result, to confine themselves to pure classic ness which becomes more delicate as the design forms in their designs, to fix upon 60 feet from approaches perfection. In fact, symmetry is the the ground as the height of their main cornices, visible expression of unity. The moment the to provide for an open portico or shelter along correspondence of balanced parts on each their whole frontage, and to assume about 25 side of a center line is disturbed by the intro- feet as their module or unit of dimension. We duction on one side of a mass or detail which have seen also that one of the results of the fun. does not appear on the other, at that moment damental conditions of the plan is the division the design begins to lose somewhat of its unity of the façades respectively by a central pavilion and to enter the domain of the picturesque, in and by corner pavilions, with stretches of cur
tain-wall between. Moreover, each of these son more subtle and sensitive than would be compositions has submitted to certain com- possible had they been at liberty to handle promises for the sake of harmony with its neigh- their common theme without definite and arbors. Now this stately uniformity of design bitrary restrictions of form. Whether the test would have been too serious for an occasion is one of architecture or poetry (and the two of festivity, if it were not relieved by a certain are closely analogous), it seems to compel the
luxury of conventional ornament, sculpture, architect or poet to enter a region, if not of painting, and decoration in metals, and by a higher thought, then of more delicate study profusion of bright and joyful accessories. We and of finer discrimination in method. Freeshall now see how this uniformity of scheme, dom of style, though it is the natural and apparently working for a monotony which healthy condition of architecture in our counwould be fatiguing, is, by the operation of the try, and adapts itself more readily to our inpersonal equation of the architect in each case, ventiveness in structure and to the practical and by the adjustment of each building to its exigencies of building, is also a temptation to especial use, entirely consistent with that indi- crude experiments, to tours de force, and to surviduality of technic, of sentiment, and of ex- prises of design, such as form the characteristic pression which constitutes the essential differ- features of an American city. Under these cirence between a cold academical composition cumstances, personal idiosyncrasies and acciand a work of art having a definite purpose. dents of mood or temperament are apt to have
By this apparent identity in general outline an undue influence upon current architecture, and language of form the architects have neces- and to perpetuate, in monumental form, the sarily been invited to a study of detail and ex- caprice of a moment or a passing fashion of pression far more fastidious than would be easily design, which, in a year's time, the author himpracticable in dealing with a style less accu- self may be the first to repudiate. It is the aim rately formulated. In somewhat similar man- of our architectural schools not to kill but to ner a dozen trained writers, expressing their correct this abundant vitality, and to direct it thoughts on a similar range of subjects in an into channels of fruitful and rational progress. established literary form,-in that of the son- A glance at the general plan of the grounds net for example, would commit themselves will show that the buildings are separated one by their differences in treatment to a compari- from the other by avenues of water or land sufficiently wide to furnish noble vistas pene- department, which we have already discussed. trating to the remoter regions of the Park, and The problem was how to cover this entire area to isolate each structure, so that its character- with a building which should have due regard istic mass and details may not be confused by to its relations to the grounds and neighboring those of its neighbors, but not so wide as to buildings; by its divisions should provide for prevent their mutual architectural relations the orderly arrangement and classification of from being clearly evident in a common align- its contents, and for the most convenient and ment, and in a common observance of the sys- economical structure ; and should secure, not
tem of axial lines which controls the location only for the first floor, but for an extensive and arrangement of the group as a whole. series of galleries, an effective and adequate
The general disposition of masses in these lighting throughout. This problem must also façades being thus defined, the way seems to embrace a due consideration for a division of be prepared for a more intelligent examination the façades corresponding to the plan, so that of the processes by which the especial archi- its architectural character should, as far as tectural character of each building has been possible, be developed from the conditions of evolved.
The architects, Messrs. McKim, Mead & It will be remembered that the great court White of New York, solved this problem by of the Exposition is bounded on the south by converting their area into a hollow square surthe two palaces of Machinery and Agriculture, rounded continuously by buildings, and by a minor court being provided between them. crossing this hollow square in the center with The latter building has a north frontage on the two high naves of equal width, at right angles court and a south frontage toward the Live- one to the other and open from floor to roof, Stock department, each 800 feet in length, each being accompanied on both sides by twowhile its west façade, of 500 feet, looks on the storied aisles, thus forming two clearstories on minor court, and its east on the lake. Its area, each roof-slope for lighting the interior space. not including the annexes in the rear, thus covers The four long courts, 80 x 280, left by this arnearly nine acres and a half, or a space about rangement, being needed for exhibition purequal to the main building of the Machinery poses, are severally occupied by three lower