Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vote for Your Favorite American Architecture

The American Institute of Architects is celebrating its 150th anniversary by highlighting some of its best work. Among other initiatives, it's teamed with Google to invite Americans to vote for their favorite buildings. I liked the touch of adding New York's Penn Station, the only structure no longer in existence. In fact, its destruction helped give birth to the modern architectural preservation movement. My vote for the five favorite pieces of American architecture? I chose the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, the Lincoln Memorial, New York's Public Library (not for the exterior, but for the exquisite reading room, one of the truly great interiors in America) and Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater. There were only two Ohio structures on the list, both in Cincinnati (the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and the old train station, the Union Terminal). I'm biased, of course, but I don't think AIA did their homework in this state. Leaving out either Cleveland's Terminal Tower (once the second-tallest building in the world) or the Old Arcade (financed by John D. Rockefeller, patterned after an arcade in Milan, and still widely considered a unique architectural gem) would seem like an oversight. Omitting both is, well, absurd.


At 7:37 PM, Blogger Tim Ferris said...

Good points--I made my selections chronologically and wound up with a lot of Richardson.

The Arcade, the RKO theatre put up by B.F. Keith (the Palace), the entire Terminal Tower complex of buildings, the Breuer Tower (I grew to appreciate it during our last community debate), the Cleveland Trust building next door, the Burnham Mall complex of buildings and spaces--we have a lot that's unique in one way or another, and deserves some appreciation.

At 1:03 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

the Guggenheim, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Taliesin, the Transamerica Tower in SF, and the Weisman Art Museum in Mpls.

I limited myself to buildings I know intimately. The Guggenheim is the only one I have not visited numerous times. I even played a music gig in the Weisman one time.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Yes, Tim, the old Cleveland Trust Rotunda on E. 9th and Euclid, sitting unused for about 20 years, would have been #3 on my list of Cleveland places of architectural signifigance. How sad that it sits there unused. And Art, that's an interesting list. Have you been to a retreat at Taliesin, which I believe was F.L. Wright's western headquarters?

At 12:44 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

Taliesen West, in AZ, was Wright's western headquarters. But his home, and original headquarters, was right here in WI, at Spring Green. Been there several times, and in many of the other local buildings he did. WI and IL are rich with Wright's work.

I'm the first to admit that I'm a fan of Modernist architecture, when it's combined with organic principles, such as Wright and some others do. Ando Tadao is another favorite, as was Eero Saarinen.

If I were 20, and was just starting out, I would probably apply to the architecture school program at Taliesen.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Wasn't the Wisconsin home the one that burned down in a terrible fire? Or am I confusing that with another place?

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

I think there was a fire at Taliesin once, yes, but I'd have to pull out my FLW books and look for it. I do know that this was his home, and he kept adding to it, revising it, rebuilding it. It was never "finished" really, but always a work in progress, that he left when he died. Now it's the Foundation headquarters, the whole school complex and home are quite the breathtaking and inspiring places to tour. Can't beat the setting, either. It's well worth the visit, if you ever pass through this way.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Taliesin is wonderful located in Spring Green, WI. FLW said that one should always own one's view and you can see how that would be obvious in that lovely place.

I think that bridges have a total fascination for me. The Brooklyn Bridge, The Golden Gate bridge and Mackinac bridge are stunning.

As a child, crossing bridges was exciting, a part of me still feel that way.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Ah, yes, Mackinaw Island. Can't believe I haven't made it there yet, but I plan to soon. Thanks for reminding me of that, Jeanne Formerly Known as Daniella.


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