2004

Sunday, February 1
PUBLIC MARKETS AND CIVIC CULTURE IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA
Lecture by Helen Tangires, Administrator, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

This lecture examined the role of public marketplace—social and architectural—as a key site in the development of civic culture in America. More than simply places for buying and selling food, municipally owned and operated markets were the common ground where citizens and government struggled to define the shared values of the community. Public markets were vital to civic policy and reflected a profound belief in the moral economy—the effort on the part of the municipality to maintain the social and political health of its community by regulating the ethics of trade in the urban marketplace. The lecture begins with the social, architectural, and regulatory components of the public market in the early republic, when cities embraced this ancient system of urban food distribution. By mid-century, the legalization of butcher shops in New York City and the incorporation of market house companies in Pennsylvania challenged the system and hastened the demise of this public service. Some cities demolished their marketing facilities or loosened restrictions on the food trades in an effort to deal with the privatization movement. However, several decades of experience with dispersed retailers, suburban slaughterhouses, and food transported by railroad proved disastrous to the public welfare, prompting cities and federal agencies to reclaim this urban civic space.

Tuesday, February 24
A "CITY WITHIN A CITY": ARCHITECTURE AND AMENITIES OF THE EARLY-TWENTIETH-CENTURY HOTEL
Lecture by Lisa P. Davidson, Historian, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record
Cosponsored by the Octagon and the American Architectural Foundation

By the 1920s an architect designing a major urban hotel might be asked to incorporate not only thousands of guest rooms, an ornate ballroom, and expansive modern kitchens, but also a variety of amenities such as a cafeteria and a coffee shop, a convention exhibit hall, shops, dormitory space foremployees, a hospital, a Turkish bath, or a library. The largest, most influential hotel structures asserted their status as urban microcosms, each a "city within a city," continually expanding in a period of dizzying urban growth. The lecture considered the complex programmatic demands of the reinvented modern hotel building type within the context of early-twentieth-century urban life and consumer culture. Firms that specialized in hotel architecture, such as Holabird & Roche, George B. Post & Sons, Warren & Wetmore, and Schultze & Weaver, needed to balance an array of guest-oriented public and private spaces with technological demands such as ventilation and the services performed by an enormous staff. Their large-scale, high-profile designs for hotel industry leaders, such as E. M. Statler of the Statler Hotels chain, created an ideal for the entire industry.


Tuesday, March 30
THE LATROBE CHAPTER OF THE SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIANS PRESENTS:
A PROGRAM DEVOTED TO EMBASSY RESIDENCES IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

With the gracious hospitality of the Ambassador of Colombia, H.E. Luis Alberto Moreno and his wife Gabriela Febres-Cordero, the program was held at the Residence of the Embassy of Colombia, 1520 20th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Hidden from the public eye and accessible only to invited guests, embassy residences may be less conspicuous than higher-profile chanceries (embassy office buildings), but they are every bit as important as statements of national identity and as settings for diplomatic discourse. Invitations to the homes of ambassadors are coveted not only because the spaces are generally not open to public view, but also because so many of the houses are distinguished local landmarks. Many are standing today only because foreign governments purchased them and turned them into embassies when they became too expensive for their original owners to maintain as private mansions.

A superb example is the Colombian ambassador's residence. Jules Henri de Sibour designed it in 1904 for Cincinnati distiller Thomas T. Gaff; Colombia purchased it in 1944. It will provide the setting for a program introducing Embassy Residences in Washington, D.C.
(Villegas, 2003), a new volume that explores forty-one of Washington's "best-kept secrets." Gabriela Febres- Cordero de Moreno, wife of H.E. Luis Alberto Moreno, the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, saw the need for the book and initiated its planning. The Ambassador and Mrs. Moreno, as the general coordinators of the project, wrote the book's foreword. Lily Urdinola de Bianchi, journalist and wife of Andrés Bianchi, Ambassador of Chile to the United States, researched and wrote the text that accompanies photographs by award-winning Colombian architectural photographer Antonio Castañeda-Buraglia. Architectural historian Jane C. Loeffler, Visiting Associate Professor, University Honors Program, University of Maryland, College Park, wrote the book's introduction, which focuses on how foreign governments use location, architecture, décor, and other tools of cultural diplomacy to define their presence in Washington.


Saturday, May 15
UNION STATION: ITS HISTORY AND PLACE IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY WASHINGTON
Tour was led by Bill Wright, Ph.D. candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Few buildings reveal more about modern Washington than Union Station. Over the past century, the station has intersected virtually every aspect of life in the capital—politics and government, transportation, planning, architecture, economics, and social patterns. This tour will show how the building reflected and shaped the city's development. 
 
Union Station's history divides into three periods. The first, which extends from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's 1835 arrival in the city to the station's 1907 opening, shows how battles over railroads highlighted key issues of the time, including Washington's limited self- governance and its future direction. The station's construction demonstrates building practices of the time and shows that problems with schedules and budgets are hardly new. The second stage, through World War II, was a period during which travelers, workers, and neighbors made the terminal a gateway to life in the capital. The final period, which began after the war, saw declining passenger train travel force the railroads and government to experiment with new uses for the station. Most notable were the unsuccessful National Visitors Center and the current festival mall/transportation center, each an effort to address such issues as urban redevelopment, historic preservation and other concerns of postwar America.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
“SERVING FUNCTION MEMORABLY”: THE ARCHITECTURE OF CURTIS AND DAVIS
Lecture by Karen Kingsley, cosponsored by the Octagon and the American Architectural Foundation                       

Many 20th century architects have explored modernism from the perspective of aesthetics and its potential relationship with function.   Among these are Nathaniel C. Curtis and Arthur Q. Davis, who established a partnership in New Orleans in 1946.  Dedicated to creating buildings that embraced new technologies and the aesthetics of modernism, Curtis and Davis had a long and prolific architectural practice, which closed in 1978.   During a period of about 32 years, the firm produced more than 400 buildings on four continents.  
 
The firm’s quotation --- “serving function memorably” --- raises questions about issues pertinent to the modernist aesthetic.   How can function be made memorable within the simplified language of modernism?    Do the buildings designed by Curtis and Davis succeed in serving function memorably?   Among the structures to be discussed in this lecture are the Forrestal Building in Washington, D.C., the Medical Center and Hospital in Berlin, Germany (pictured above), the former IBM Building in Pittsburgh, and the State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana.


Saturday, October 23
I. M. PEI HOME IN CLEVELAND PARK RENOVATIONS BY ARCHITECT HUGH NEWELL JACOBSEN
A Private Tour, with Remarks by Owner Dan Snyder and Comments by Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen                     

I. M. Pei’s internationally recognized architecture is best known for large and volumetric public spaces, such as the glass pyramidal addition to the Louvre and the monumental geometrical East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.  Pei is not closely associated with domestic commissions; in fact, he designed only two residences worldwide. One was built in Cleveland Park for Urban Renewal Administration Commissioner William Slayton in 1962.  Its current owner, Dan Snyder, is graciously allowing members of the Latrobe Chapter to have a private tour of his home.  This extraordinary and unique domestic design includes recent renovations by acclaimed architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen.  Comments on this Washington treasure focused on both Pei’s conception and Jacobsen’s contribution.

Friday, November 5
AN INSIDER’S REFLECTIONS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF WASHINGTON, D.C. – 1960-2004
The Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture by Charles Atherton, Former Secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts


Tuesday, November 16
THE ELUSIVE CHARNLEY HOUSE
Lecture by Richard Longstreth, Professor, George Washington University

Today the internationally renowned Charnley House (renamed the Charnley-Persky House) serves as the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians in Chicago.   Built for James and Helen Charnley on Chicago’s Gold Coast in 1891-1892, the Charnley House is a well-known domestic design that has long been recognized in the architectural world and often included in texts on American architectural history. Yet, the Charnley House has been shrouded in mystery.  Almost no primary documentation of it exists.   Many questions about it remain unresolved, including its authorship. Was it designed by Louis Sullivan or Frank Lloyd Wright?  This lecture brought to light new research that helps to uncover aspects of the authorship, design and early history of this elusive work.         

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