Assorted Architecture

I originally intended to keep up with the blog and create posts as I went places this summer, but ended up getting caught up in whatever was going on at the time. So here are my recent observations in one epic post:

In May, I took a drive to Mercersburg Academy which is a prep school in southern PA (1,2,3). I wanted to see how it was different from the boarding school I attended in high school (4,5) since it has a much longer history than my own school. Though there are a few outcasts, many of the buildings on the campus are built in the Gothic style. I was interested in seeing how newer buildings on the campus were adapted to fit the overall theme. The second image is obviously that of a newer building. While it is clear that it stands apart from the other buildings, it still seems to “fit” within the group. Its steep peaks resemble pointed arches found in some of the other buildings and its use of stone is utilized to carry through the same central theme.

1. Mercersburg Academy

1. Mercersburg Academy

2. Mercersburg Academy

2. Mercersburg Academy

3. Mercersburg Academy

3. Mercersburg Academy

4. My campus

4. My campus

5. My campus

5. My campus

Next up, I checked out the Washington National Cathedral (6) which was beautiful but I had been told beforehand it was marvelous so I think I had envisioned something that might rival Milan’s duomo (7) I saw the year before. An interesting bit of info though: the sculpture incorporated into the central portal is named “Ex Nihilo”, meaning out of nothing. It portrays eight humans emerging from nothingness. A few days later, I saw a replica of this sculpture while I was visiting a friend at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. The replica is installed on a wall in Belmont’s athletic center!

4. Washington National Cathedral

6. Washington National Cathedral

Milan's duomo

7. Milan's duomo

While there, I also visited Nashville’s Parthenon (8,9), a full-scale replica of the actual, in Centennial Park. While being blown away at the scale of it and feeling so tiny next to the columns and having to clamber up the steep steps, I imagine its setting creates a completely different feeling than the one in Athens does. I imagine the Parthenon in Athens seems even grander since it overlooks the city. You can use the people in the first image to get an idea of the scale.

6. Nashville's Parthenon

8. Nashville's Parthenon

7. Nashville's Parthenon

9. Nashville's Parthenon

While travelling to and from Nashville I started to develop some theories I had brainstormed about several months before. I went to Chicago in mid-February and viewed the city from the Sears Tower (10). I could see for miles, and for all the miles I could distinguish the routes people used to commute. Heavily used routes were bold and more brightly lit and those that were secondary were less-bright. My plane to Nashville was delayed over and over again so I arrived in the middle of the night. As I flew over Tennessee I was amazed at how I could see the little cities clustered here and there over the earth. Within those clusters I coud again see the routes that people drove and I could also see the little cars making their way through their commute. So this made me think more about traffic and the routes I take everyday when I am driving at home. My town has many one-way streets and many many detours. It is exciting  for me to think about where I plan to go when I drive and consider the many different routes I can take to get to my destination. Sometimes I will pick one route because it takes the least amount of time, I will pick another because it will be the drive where I encounter the least amount of other cars, I will pick another route because it is the most fun/challenging to drive. These routes say a lot about the city I live in, its landscape, and a study of its population and activity which are all things that architects must take into account. Imagine if all the roads had lanes going both directions and never veered off to take you a different way. The way I travel and go about my day would be changed completely because of the new access. It’s hard for me to even imagine my town like this and I know that if I were given such freedom I wouldn’t know how to get anywhere if this freedom were granted overnight. I would find myself taking my old routes because it would require a lot of energy to come up with a different route. I would have to think about it and consciously change my ways.

8. Chicago city plan

10. Chicago city plan

I’ve spent my summer in Pittsburgh and I’ve come to believe that too many people underestimate the city and don’t give it enough credit. Pittsburgh is a great place and it has a lot to offer. I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve seen so many interesting things so far. I took a walk to Chatham to see Richard Meier’s Giovannitti House (11) and the house behind it rumored to be designed by Robert Venturi (anyone know if this is true?).

9. Giovannitti House

11. Giovannitti House

Another day I went downtown to the Pennsylvanian (12); it was a very enchanting place to be in.

10. Pennsylvanian

12. Pennsylvanian

I went for breakfast one day and ended up taking a long way back. From Shadyside I walked to East Liberty and explored the East Liberty Presbyterian Church (13,14). It has an amazing organ and some really beautiful stained glass (14).

11. East Liberty Presbyterian Church

13. East Liberty Presbyterian Church

East Liberty Presbyterian Church

14. East Liberty Presbyterian Church

Then I walked down the street and noticed this building on the corner of Baum Blvd and Beatty Sq. I tried to figure out what it was just by looking at it and some friends I was with thought it might be a place of worship or an old train station. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out it was converted into a AAA center. I went in and was amazed by it’s interior structure (15,16). It was like I was looking at a skeleton. A lot of effort goes into hiding the structure in most buildings. I snapped a few photos before being kicked out of the place and hope to go back at some point. It’s structure really reminds me of a photo I took during final reviews of a snowflake on a windowsill (17). It looks delicate, but at the same time it is very determined in its form. Sort of relates to Danny’s post , Nature as System, about the lake water and biomimicry.

13. AAA building

15. AAA building

14. AAA building

16. AAA building

15. Snowflake

17. Snowflake

This weekend I visited Wright’s Fallingwater (18,19,20) and Kentuck Knob (21,22). I visited both once before when I was in high school. At the time I was really excited to see them both but I wasn’t very impressed after my tours. I felt it was a novel experience. Now, I’m really glad I went back to see them both after being in school for a year. They had more meaning, seeing them the second time. I could see more in both of the works; I could see how spaces and shapes were derived and how the architecture was manipulated to create an experience for whoever would live in the houses. Tiny details brought the projects together to create a continuity. Thumbs up. It was a really great experience to have the opportunity to go back and rediscover these things. I also had a great tour guide which helps (that’s her in the center of image 19). It was also a strange feeling to be able to snap the photo for myself that you always see when you think of Fallingwater (18). Even stranger was being able to see the project from all different angles and perspectives. It was almost like seeing a completely different work since you get so used to seeing it from that specific angle that all the books portray.

16. Fallingwater

18. Fallingwater

17. Fallingwater

19. Fallingwater

18. Fallingwater

20. Fallingwater

19. Kentuck Knob

21. Kentuck Knob



6 Responses to “Assorted Architecture”

  1. 1 karno
    2009/08/01 at 12:01 pm

    hey kendra, your post has inspired me to post something too, probably about lots of new stuff that has been coming up in singapore. just dont know when i can get down to doing it. enjoy the rest of your summer!

  2. 2 dj2d
    2009/08/04 at 2:07 pm

    That is in fact a house by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown behind the Giovannitti House on Chatham’s campus. It’s obscured by trees, but is more visible in winter. It’s the one with the green facade.

    When at Chatham, a must see for anyone is the Walter Gropius & Marcel Breuer designed Frank House tucked up in the corner on Woodland Road. Gropius was the founder of the renowned Bauhaus in Germany, and the Frank House is the largest residence he designed. It’s a little worn, but still a good example of 1930’s International Style architecture, which isn’t commonly found in the United States.

    Also worth a look: Mellon Hall at Duquesne University, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; and Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail by H.H. Richardson.

    There are dozens more interesting buildings around town, and a great resource is the book: “Pittsburgh’s Landmark Architecture” by Walter Kidney. I don’t believe the title is widely available for sale any longer, except through the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Copies can usually be found at the library though.

  3. 2009/08/04 at 2:17 pm

    On Kidney’s book – I own a copy, too. It’s a massive book (to be referenced at before or after a walk around the city, not during! haha), but if anyone wants to take a look, let me know. It’s a good reference, though, because you can find buildings by both their timeperiod/style and their location in the city.

  4. 4 Liza
    2009/08/06 at 12:25 pm

    (thanks for fixing the format)

  5. 5 hasan
    2010/05/01 at 8:17 am

    giovannitti house,detail,plan

  6. 6 hasan
    2010/05/01 at 8:29 am


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