2006

Tuesday, January 10
THE KENNEDY-WARREN: ART DECO MASTERPIECE IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL

Lecture by James Goode, Architectural Historian, B.F. Saul Company and former Curator of the Smithsonian Castle
Co-Sponsored by the Art Deco Society of Washington

One of most elegant and striking silhouettes in Washington, D.C. is that of the Kennedy-Warren, a towering high rise apartment house located on Connecticut Avenue. Designed by Washington architect Joseph Younger in 1929-30, it was a monumentally scaled, luxurious and modern apartment building for its period. With its refined proportions, dramatic height and expressive details, the Kennedy-Warren has commanded a position of respect in the city. It has been described as one of the three most important Art Deco buildings in the Nation’s Capital. Now owned by the B.F. Saul Company, the Kennedy-Warren has been renovated to renew its distinguished character and traditional grandeur. This lecture focused upon the design, architectural character, historical significance, and recent changes of this Art Deco masterpiece.


Saturday, January 21
A STUDY TOUR OF THE MAGNIFICENT KENNEDY-WARREN: WASHINGTON'S ART DECO MONUMENT

Led by Historian James Goode, architects Don Hackey and Richard Houghton
Co-Sponsored by the Art Deco Society of Washington
This in-depth study tour offered a comprehensive examination of a famous Art Deco masterpiece from the historical and architectural points of view. Renowned scholar and architectural historian James Goode discussed the original building, particularly the South Wing, designed by Washington architect Joseph Younger, and built in 1930. Dr. Goode emphasized the importance of the building as an example of the Art Deco style and talked about its prominence during its heyday of the 1930s. Younger’s 1930 plan was used by the B.F. Saul Company, which now owns the building, in conjunction with the architectural firm of Hartman Cox to restore and finish this high rise apartment in 2004, thereby making the Kennedy-Warren, a highly unique structure bridging the 1930s and the early 21st century.

Tuesday, February 14
POSTCARDS FROM KARLSBAD: MARKETING THE SPA AS A GREEN DESTINATION, CA. 1900
Lecture by Wanda Bubriski, Director, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, New York
“Where am I?” jests the caption to a vintage 1900 postcard from Karlsbad. As the image indicates, it was easy to get lost in the crowd at the Muhlbrunn Colonnade during the daily morning Trinkzeit, when spa-guests – as many as 11,000 a day – drank their prescribed cupfuls of mineral waters directly at the springs and promenaded between draughts to peppy polkas played by live orchestras.

Spas of a century ago, as exemplified by Karlsbad and her sister spas of northwest Bohemia, Marienbad and Franzensbad, were popular, pervasive, and prescient. The burgeoning phenomenon of health tourism along with the dawning of the medicalized vacation helped fuel the spa’s enormous popularity. This talk focused on the Bohemian spa town as a place defined and shaped by health. Specifically, we will see how the spa town, in its desire to create a healthy environment for its many cure-guests, implemented land use and planning practices that addressed the health conditions of public spaces as much as spa facilities and individual guests. These spas were meticulously managed, artfully designed towns where health maintenance had become a planning quality as well as a tool for place promotion.


Tuesday, March 14
THE L'ENFANT PLAN FROM IDEA TO LANDSCAPE
A lecture at the National Building Museum by Don Hawkins with a viewing of the exhibition “Washington: Symbol and City”

The L’Enfant Plan for Washington, D.C., dating from the late 18th century, has played an enormous part in shaping and defining our nation’s capital, both in physical and in symbolic terms. Pierre L’Enfant’s design was the impetus of an original comprehensive plan for the capital of the new republic. Later, the design would inspire urban planners to continue in the spirit of the plan to create a dignified city with a classical character. The name “L’Enfant” itself is well-known to those who come to Washington as historians or casual visitors. Yet, despite the fact that the L’Enfant Plan has been much studied, it is still being closely examined and interpreted by historians.

Latrobe Chapter member, architect and historian Don Alexander Hawkins, presented his thesis on the origins of Pierre L’Enfant’s plan for Washington. Mr. Hawkins asserts that Pierre L’Enfant did not imitate Baroque gardens and city plans, such as those of Versailles, London and Paris, in his scheme for a new American capital city. Instead, argues that L’Enfant’s plan was inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s ideas on the relationship between American government and commerce. The lecture featured a discussion of the original surveyors’ sequential laying out of the plan on the site.

The lecture was dedicated in admiration and respect to the memory of the late Mr. Charles Atherton, who devoted his career to the history of Washington, D.C., and had a great interest in the L’Enfant Plan and the development of city.


Tuesday, 4 April
COMMERCE IS THE ENGINE OF URBANITY: VICTOR GRUEN AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE AMERICAN LANDSCAPE
Lecture by Professor Alex Wall, AA Dipl. ARB

In North America, the impact of retail shopping on the development of suburbs, the renewal of downtowns, and the spatial and programmatic order of emerging metropolitan regions can be first traced to the work of Victor Gruen. Yet his evolution from retail designer to philosopher of urbanism was not an isolated career trajectory. His fusion of retail with the idea of social and cultural center is the first link in a chain of projects leading from the postwar suburban regional shopping center to the “branded” urban districts today.

After Gruen this evolution is seen most clearly in the work of developer James Rouse and architect and planner Jon Jerde. Each became known by his shopping centers, but then went on to design urban districts and new towns. And each described himself as a community builder, set for himself (whether he met them or not) the highest social goals, and believed in the possibility of a new humanistic city. Their work, though underappreciated, situates them (and the program they served: retail shopping) not at the edge of architectural culture but at its center.

Tuesday, May 9
THE ARCHITECTURE OF POWER: JOHN RUSSELL POPE'S RESIDENCES IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Lecture by James B. Garrison, Senior Associate, Hillier Architecture; AIA

John Russell Pope is one of the most important 20th century American classicists. As the designer of the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, and Temple of the Scottish Rite, Pope helped to shape the character of public architecture in the nation’s capital. His emergence as a nationally prominent architect is closely tied to these civic works, as well as to private commissions in Washington, D.C. for a close-knit circle of clients.

This lecture examined the historical significance and architectural designs of Pope’s work in Washington, D.C., emphasizing his contribution to residential design. Known for elegance and classical disposition, Pope’s domestic architecture quickly eclipsed the work of local architects in Washington, D.C., as he refined a design motif that overtly, but also subliminally communicated power and presence. His mansions on Dupont Circle, McPherson Square and Massachusetts Avenue stood boldly apart from their contemporaries without being pattern book copies. A later series of houses on Meridian Hill and in Kalorama further refined his personal approach to urban residential design.


Saturday, June 10
RICHARD NEUTRA'S DOMESTIC MASTERPIECE IN WASHINGTON

Study Tour of Private Residence
With special commentary and insiders’ perspective of original clients/owners


Monday, September 11
THE NEW MoMA: REINVENTING EASTERN AND WESTERN TRADITIONS OF MODERNISM
Lecture by Terrence Riley, Director, Miami Art Museum

The lecture provided an overview of Yoshio Taniguchi’s design for the recently completed renovation and expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While the design is generally recognized as a striking contemporary interpretation of modernism’s architectural achievements, the lecture explored some unexpected influences from classical Japanese architecture as well as from Japanese cultural attitudes towards museums and the collecting of art. The interplay between Eastern and Western traditions should not be so surprising in that Taniguchi’s father was himself an architect and a member of the generation of Japanese architects that turned from historic styles and focused on European modern architectural movements. The younger Taniguchi studied engineering in Japan but studied architecture in the United States at Harvard University, where, ironically, he met Kenzo Tange, Japan’s great post-war architect and a disciple of Le Corbusier. Taniguchi would study and work for Tange for ten years before opening his own office.


Friday, September 29
STUDY TOUR OF THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING, NEW YORK CITY - MEMBERS ONLY
Led by Andy Seferlis, Restoration Specialist, The Smithsonian Institution and Roy Suskin, Building Manager, The Witkoff Group

The Woolworth Building, designed by architect Cass Gilbert and built between 1910 and 1913, is considered one of New York’s most remarkable architectural and engineering marvels. Rising 792 feet, it was financed by five-and-dime store magnate F.W. Woolworth at a cost of thirteen million dollars. Since the demise of the Woolworth corporation in the early 1990’s the building has undergone a massive renovation. Apartments will soon occupy the soaring tower portion, indicative of the growing trend in lower Manhattan for commercial buildings (many historic) to become residential.

This tour featured the exposed infrastructure of Cass Gilbert’s design, as well as a firsthand look at the preservation challenge posed by the tremendous amount of terra cotta used on the exterior. Other highlights included the complex support system of the basement, a walk through F. W. Woolworth’s private office and apartment, a look at some of Gilbert’s original drawings, a chance to see the plans for the new residences, and, perhaps best of all, the opportunity to view the city from the observatory which was closed to the public some fifty years ago.

Saturday, October 14
STUDY TOUR OF THE NATIONAL CATHEDRAL - MEMBERS ONLY
Led by Andy Seferlis, Restoration Specialist, The Smithsonian Institution

The Latrobe Chapter conducted a very special behind-the-scenes tour of the Washington National Cathedral, where participants explored areas off-limits to the public and even to those on one of the regularly scheduled docent-led tours. Latrobe Board member Andy Seferlis, whose father Constantine was a master sculptor and carver at the Cathedral for almost twenty years, led the tour. Members received an in-depth look at both clay and plaster models that were eventually carved into the countless keystones, gargoyles, statues, and label mold terminations found throughout the building. Included were also rarely seen works in wood by former Dean Francis Sayre and the first Cathedral commission of master glass artist Rowan Lecompte.

Tuesday, November 14
THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL MALL

Lecture by Peter Penczer, Independent Scholar

Peter Penczer introduced his book, The Washington National Mall, the first general history of one of America’s most important urban parks. Penczer traced the history of the Mall in a lecture illustrated with more than 100 photographs, most never before published. The book, self-published in full color, is due in spring 2007. The lecture will focus on the Mall’s three lives. For most of the nineteenth century, it was little more than a pasture. Then, in the 1870s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the landscaping in a naturalistic style inspired by Andrew Jackson Downing’s 1851 plan for the Mall. For sixty years the Mall was filled with ornate Victorian buildings, winding paths, and heavy vegetation. That was swept aside in the 1930s in favor of the classical landscaping envisioned by the McMillan Plan of 1902.
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