« AnteriorContinuar »
THE BAD BUILDINGS OF TWO GENERATIONS AGO-EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE HARMONY OF
THE PAST-GOOD EFFECT OF THE GATES—THE FOGG MUSEUM, BROOKS HOUSE AND RANDALL HALL-THE FUTURE OF GOOD PROMISE
BY R. CLIPSTON STURGIS
REPRINTED FROM THE BOSTON " TRANSCRIPT"
REAT changes have come over Harvard an enormous advance upon Matthews and Weld. in the last twenty years. The far-sighted Its general mass and the proportion of the halls
policy of the president has raised the within are good, and its weak points are in the college to the standard of a true university. The handling of a half-understood mediæval style. undergraduate department is in many ways the The gymnasium, following the lines of later least important branch of educational work ; and English work, is far better, and is moreover in post-graduate courses are giving Harvard a posi- closer harmony with the old buildings. Sever tion which ranks her at once among the seats of and the Law School mark yet another phase of learning
development, a side-current in the general moveNumerical growth has come with these ment. With all their fine qualities, it is more changes, and many new buildings have been than doubtful if either of these buildings will erected to meet the new demands. The majority retain a permanent place in the memory of the of these, especially the new dormitories, are private graduates. investments and not the property of the university, Few can leave Harvard without being imbut a considerable amount of building has been pressed and having their higher instincts touched done for the university itself, and it is interesting by the quiet simplicity and complete dignity of to note the phases through which the architecture University, but one doubts if Sever ever has of Harvard has passed. The dignified simplicity roused or ever will rouse any such sentiments. of the earlier buildings which so long sufficed for This is after all a pretty fair touchstone for good the needs of the college was most unfortunately work. unappreciated two generations ago, and Harvard Since then nearly all the work done for the but followed the general downward tendency of university has been more or less on the lines of the time in her buildings. Gray's is not as good the old work and with the distinct aim of preas Holworthy ; Thayer's is not as good as Gray's; serving a feeling of harmony. Weld and Matthew's, chiefly through being more The recent buildings show an intelligent sympretentious, are not as good as either of the pathy with the good old work and some appreciaothers. These marked, however, the turn of the tion of what is worthy the greatest of American tide, and the last thirty years of the century have universities. One cannot be too thankful for this been a constantly increasing excellence in build- turn in the tide, for the influence of surroundings ing. Memorial Hall, with all its defects, is yet on men is a very powerful one, and the general
THE ARCHITECTURAL ANNUAL
WE HEARTILY AGREE
education of the college graduate is lamentably boundary, but in this case the new is surely better, lacking on the side of the fine arts. Not, indeed, and new associations will soon grow around it. through any lack of educational opportunities, The Fogg Museum is a dignified classic debut owing to a lack of interest and a lack of sign. All Mr. Hunt's later work bears the initial knowledge which shall make the study of impress of the scholar and the experienced archithe fine arts of some avail. A boy who has grown tect, who, without any personal initiative, without up in the average American city and with the the imaginative qualities, which so often lead ordinary surroundings of an American family has astray, is content to follow well-established prenot as a rule even the A, B, C of an art educa- cedent. If his earlier work was full of architection. He knows nothing of painting, sculpture tural vagaries, such as his Beacon street houses or architecture, and generally would class them, On the hill, his later work was wholly scholastic. with a knowledge of law or medicine, as things The Fogg Museum is an excellent example of to be acquired later if needed, but not as a neces the later tendency. Quiet, restrained, dignified, sary part of a well-educated man's knowledge. a harmonious composition, correct, well detailed
Under such circumstances his material sur- and well executed. It is a Prix-de-Rome drawroundings at college are of very great importance, ing carried out by an experienced architect. It and it is well for him to know, even if he does not has, however, no touch of sympathy with other appreciate, the older college buildings.
Harvard work, nor has it any hint on the exterior through the great gate with Massachusetts and that it is designed for a museum. There is room Harvard on either hand makes a memory worth for two opinions as to how far it meets the needs having. The Fogg Museum must insensibly of the fine-arts department; it was built for the train the eye to recognize good architecture. To use of this department, but in opposition to the go daily to Randall Hall must certainly help one wishes and ideals of those who had the departto some artistic knowledge. The Soldiers' Field, ment in charge. It certainly is not well planned with its gates and lodge and the Cary Building, nor well lighted for the display of statuary or brings good architecture in touch with the athletic pictures, but it was not intended to rival, or life, and the new boathouse will do the same. It parallel the work of the Boston Museum. The seems a thousand pities that the daily memories interior has the same fine architectural quality as of chapel and library should not be equally that which distinguishes the exterior. good.
The whole tenor of college life has changed Probably no one architectural feature could during the last thirty, or, one may say, twenty do more for good or evil than the great west gate, years. Classes no longer bind men together as for it is in such constant evidence. It is therefore they did. Clubs and so ieties are more numerous. doubly fortunate that it should so perfectly fill its Brooks Hall meets what is now a real need, but place and fulfil its function. Well designed, well which then had no existence. Under its roof are placed, and executed with a thoroughness of gathered those religious and social organizations artistic intelligence which is very rare, it stands a which have a semi-collegiate or public character. constant reminder of what good work should be The building, while retaining much of the quiet
Far simpler than the west gate, but dignified dignity of the other buildings, has yet a distinct and restful, are the gates at the north leading out character of its own. No attempt has been made, to Memorial Hall. They are good, but not to be as was done in the gates, to soften the hard, uncompared with the west gate. This is not because sympathetic quality of the culled common brick, they are less extensive and less elaborate, but and therefore the building has a certain rawness simply because they are not so well designed nor which time will eventually remove. The uniso well executed. The quick ramps of the coping formity of the brick is repeated in the monotony of the lower flanking walls against the posts is of the black slate roof. Any one who is familiar not pleasant, and it injures the lines of the posts with the delightful color quality of the variegated which are the keynote of the composition. The and mottled Vermont slate must wonder why iron work has not the artistic quality of execution architects so often seem to prefer the cast-steel which makes the other so interesting, and which deadness of the black slate. Even the green seems is even more important in a simple design than preferable when roofing a brick building. Apart in a more elaborate one. At present, portions of from these trifling matters, Brooks is a thoroughly the familiar old rail are coming down to make attractive building and looks quite at home in its way for new gates and new railing. The latter place near Stoughton, Holworthy and Hollis. promises to be in accord with the fine precedent The interior is equally good and needs only a few of the great gates, and as far as one can judge years of use to give it the homelike look which the new gates will follow on the same lines. On such a building should have. sentimental grounds one will miss the homely old There seems to have been a growing tendency
THE ARCHITECTURAL ANNUAL
of late years to study and follow the lines of the carver who did the swags on the Winchester English work of the seventeenth and eighteenth School would have been content to model one bit centuries Various things have contributed to of one swag and then duplicate it for the rethis. The study of mediæval and late Gothic mainder. The gables do not approximate suffiwork has led in natural sequence to the study of ciently closely to the outline of the roof, and the style which succeeded them. Pugin, Scott, suggest screens rather than gable ends, but they Street and the other Gothicists have been followed are pleasantly studied outlines and one forgives by Gotch, with his delightful study of the seven the touch of insincerity. One cannot, however, teenth century domestic work, and this, in turn, be reconciled so readily to the niggardly economy is followed by Belcher & Macartney's volumes of of wooden cornices, painted to match the stone. eighteenth century work. Such men as the late On the sides, where it forms the eaves, it is not so John Stewardson, of Philadelphia, have done evidently disagreeable, but on the front it is inexmuch to encourage the study of both these periods, cusably cheap-looking. Already the wood has and executed work which ranks easily with the split in places, and the channels of the tryglyphs best modern English work. The dormitory of the are almost lost in their coats of paint. Constant University of Pennsylvania and the new Law care and more paint can alone keep up even a School show that thorough grasp of the spirit of semblance of the imitation, and this will in time the earlier times which makes individual work quite ruin the fine lines of the detail. If such possible without any trace of the mere copyist. work must be of wood it should be designed to Others have followed with more or less knowledge carry without injury the successive coats of paint; and ability, and with the greater popularity of but one cannot but feel that it would be more the style it is perhaps needless to add that others dignified for a building of this semi-monumental have followed feebly in their wake and threaten and permanent character is the design were kept the style with disrepute by their ignorant within limits which would admit its being exehandling-just what happened to Richardson's cuted in right materials. romanesque.
Other important buildings are now under way, Randall Hall belongs most distinctly to the the Architectural Building and the Harvard first class. It is a dignified, quiet design, based Union ; and the Semitic Museum and the final on the simpler and better English eighteenth cen- portion of the University Museum are likely to tury work. It has good proportion, a clear ex be undertaken very shortly. All of these follow terior expression of the great hall within, and a the general line of the good old precedents of the very clever subordination of the kitchen and college, so that the architectural outlook of the offices, the necessary accessories. Good red brick university is full of promise. Graduates will reand white limestone look better than anything turn to Harvard to add new delights to the else among the Cambridge elms. The detail is pleasant associations of their own college days, well studied and well executed. The carving and one may feel sure that the students of the quite in the spirit, very decorative, of the late present day will take away with them some knowleighteenth century work; though one doubts if edge of and appreciation for good architecture.
The charm of the picture and an added appearance of stability would have been obtained by continuing the stone-work on either side of the archway to join with the corner quoins.
Here, as elsewhere, the outrage upon history is evident; and the fact that Franklin and Thomas Penn were among the original founders of the University, and that five out of six of the first graduates were either signers of the Declaration of Independence or conspicuous in Revolutionary history has been ignored.
COPE & STEWARDSON, ARCHITECTS For a moment the picturesque effect, enhanced by a charming color-scheme, makes one forget the flimsiness of the composition and the newness of the buildings.
The loyal undergraduate who resides here is at first dazzled by the fantasy of over-decoration, but after seeking in vain for the complete and vivid record of university history that might have replaced what a local paper admiringly described as "stone carving of a character rarely seen in Philadelphia." "heads of gargoyles, goblins and gnomies," he finds himself more confused than enlightened by his surroundings,