2002

Wednesday, January 16
WINOLD REISS: A PIONEER OF MODERN AMERICAN DESIGN

Lecture by C. Ford Peatross
, Curator of Architecture, Design, and Engineering Collections, Library of Congress
The lecture gave a visual overview of the work of Winold Reiss (18861953), a native of Munich, Germany, one of the first artists to introduce the elements of modern European (especially Viennese-influenced) design to the United States. From his arrival in this country in 1913 to the 1950s, Reiss helped define the high-style American commercial vernacular, designing many of New York's greatest restaurants, including the Restaurant Crillon and the Longchamps chain; the Tavern Club in Chicago (with John Root), and restaurants and hotels in Washington, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. Of his public spaces, best known is Cincinnati's Union Terminal, where his monumental mosaic murals define and enliven a magnificent interior.

Tuesday, February 12
ANATOMY OF A FLORENTINE RENAISSANCE PALACE

Lecture by Philip Jacks, Professor Fine Arts and Art History, George Washington University

The lecture looked at a patrician family of Renaissance Florence, the Spinelli, whose ancestral homes neighbored those of the Peruzzi and Alberti in the Santa Croce quarter. A new Spinelli palace went up in the 1450s during a burst of residential building. The family archive, recently brought to light, provides a detailed picture of how the palace was constructed and furnished. As conservative patrons, the Spinelli emulated the taste of the Medici, while avoiding the appearance of competing with Florence's first citizens. The building is distinguished by its fashionable sgraffito decoration on the facade and in the courtyard. In examining the sources of this imagery, the lecture showed how one family gave visibility to its rising status by adapting traditional architectural forms within a specific urban context.

Tuesday, March 19
DAVID ADLER: THE LAST OF THE GRAND COUNTRY HOUSE ARCHITECTS

Lecture by Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, University of Virginia

From the 1920s through the 1940s, Chicago-based architect David Adler (1882-1949), in collaboration with interior designer Frances Elkins, created many of the last generation of grand country houses for wealthy clients across the country, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, to Hillsborough, California. Adler's approach to design, while relying on the past, also displays an eclectic and modernist sensibility. The lecture considered his novel employment of various stylistic idioms.

Tuesday, April 30
HOW METRO GOT ITS VAULTS: FEDERAL MODERNISM, HARRY WEESE, AND RAPID TRANSIT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Lecture by Zachary M. Schrag, Columbia University

In the quarter century since the Washington Metro opened, the spacious, coffered vaults of its underground stations have drawn comparison to the Pantheon, Piranesi's prison sketches, and science fiction movie sets as well as to Union Station.  But few of Metro's riders know the origins of architect Harry Weese's design, and much of what has been written about it has been fogged by myth and misrepresentation.  The lecture explained how Metro's vaults originated in John F. Kennedy's efforts to rebuild Washington and reinvigorate federal design, and how what began as an engineering project uneasily became a work of architecture as well.


Saturday, June 1
TWO DISTINCTIVE GEMS OF BEAUX-ARTS FOGGY BOTTOM
A tour of the Federal Reserve Board Building and the National Academy of Sciences

The classically inspired monumental buildings of Foggy Bottom, constructed from the 1890s to the 1930s, make a grand march south on 17th Street, NW, from New York Avenue to Constitution Avenue and west on Constitution to the Lincoln Memorial. Although they are similar in style, scale, and expression of Beaux-Arts principles, two adjacent members of the group represent unique design solutions: Paul Philippe Cret's Federal Reserve Board Building of 1937 and Bertram Grovesnor Goodhue's National Academy of Sciences of 1924. Each tour will be led by an expert. At the Federal Reserve Boar, Mary Anne Goley, Fine Arts Program Coordinator, guided a tour to both public and private areas of the building. At the National Academy of Sciences, Archivist Janice Goldblum interpreted the academy's well-known statue of Albert Einstein and exterior architectural features before turning to the richly embellished interior.


Tuesday, September 24
"A CITY AS A WORK OF ART": THE EMERGENCE OF THE SENATE PARK COMMISSION PLAN

Lecture by Pamela Scott, Architectural Historian
Between April 1901 and January 1902, the three active members of the Senate Park Commission-Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Charles Follen McKim-met frequently in Washington, traveled together in the United States and in Europe, and corresponded nearly daily as they conceptualized a comprehensive plan to revitalize Washington.  Several of their preliminary drawings, newly discovered, yield surprising information about their design for the city's monumental core. Not only did the treatment of the Mall and the memorials change considerably from the initial concept, but most of the major design decisions were made before the commissions's European tour. In addition, the oft touted visionary nature of the plan can be seen as the culmination of a local Washington political agenda for municipal improvements set by Senator James McMillan as chairman of the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. In examining the drawings with other documents produced by major aesthetic and political figures, the lecture will show how Burnham, Olmsted, and McKim satisfied all of McMillan's pragmatic concerns while treating the monumental cityscape as a work of art.

Saturday, October 26
HEADQUARTERS OF THE NAVY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT
Tour led by Jan K. Herman, Historian of the Navy Medical Department; Curator of the Old Naval Observatory; and Editor of Navy Medicine
From 1844 to 1893, the U.S. Naval Observatory occupied a hilltop in Washington's Foggy Bottom neighborhood. During those years, astronomers at the observatory helped the nation gain an international reputation in science. In the years before the Civil War, Superintendent Matthew Fontaine Maury "invented" the modern science of oceanography, and on a hot August night in 1877 astronomer Asaph Hall, using what was then the world's largest telescope, sighted one of the two moons of Mars, one of the most significant astronomical discoveries of the 19th century. In 1894 the site was transferred to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery to replace the old Naval Hospital in southeast Washington and provide modern clinical facilities for the Naval Medical School. The structures of this phase were designed by Ernest Flagg, architect and planner for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Although the Naval Medical Center was eventually built in Bethesda, the Washington site on the hill has continued to serve the Navy Medical Department and the U.S. Government. The tour visited the observatory and other buildings on the site.

Tuesday, November 12
BENJAMIN HENRY LATROBE AND HIS DESIGNS FOR "CAPTIAL" HOUSES
Lecture by Michael Fazio, Professor of Architecture, Mississippi State University

Benjamin Henry Latrobe had built three still-extent houses in England before emigrating to Virginia in 1795, and in his lifetime in the United States, he completed more than 60 residential commissions, of which three—Adena in Chillicothe, Ohio, the Pope Villa in Lexington, Kentucky, and Decatur House in Washington—remain largely intact. This lecture will consider Latrobe's houses in Washington—the Van Ness House, Decatur House, and the President's House during Jefferson's presidency—as well as the Casanave House, about which much less is known. In each case, Latrobe sought to build according to his theories of residential design. At the Van Ness House, adapted an established English model; at the President's House, he corrected what he considered to have been errors made by James Hoban; and at Decatur House, he worked with a program and site conditions that challenged his considerable ingenuity.
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