Paleo Retiree writes:
A spectacularly cushiony and lacy column capital from the 1899 Bayard-Condict Building, the only project that the legendary Chicago School architect Louis Sullivan ever built in New York City:
Could that mofo draw or what? Intense training in drawing used to play a major role in the education of architecture students. No longer.
By the way, I have no idea if this particular column capital is an original or a reproduction. In 2000, when renovation work was begun on the building, it was found that only one of the original column capitals had survived, so the others were modeled on it.
One of the more demented assertions that was peddled in the Modernism-besotted architecture history classes I attended back in the ’70s was the notion that the Bayard-Condict Building (as well as other Louis Sullivan works) were great because they were proto-Modernist. I remember thinking that one over really hard. Impossible to dispute that Sullivan’s buildings were often, for their era, tall; that they sometimes stirred up controversy; and that they were built on steel frames. Otherwise … Well, it seemed perfectly apparent to even Youthful Idiot Me that what Sullivan was mainly up to was exploring the possibilities that new technologies and materials offered while simultaneously folding his buildings into their contexts and harmonizing them with their surroundings. Which would put him on the side of continuity, extension and respect — ie., traditional architecture and urbanism — and most definitely not on the side of Modernism, which was (and which remains) theory-driven, geometry-obsessed, determined to make creations that stand out instead of fit in, and defiantly determined to break with the (awful/evil/oppressive/unenlightened/etc) pre-1930s past. But if your whole point is to maintain that all of architecture history leads inexorably, unavoidably to your one personal favorite style, then I guess it’s unavoidable that you’ll be overlooking an awful lot of what’s perfectly obvious to anyone with a non-brainwashed eye.