This past February, my wife and I took a weekend trip to San Francisco, where we stumbled across the city’s cathedral – St Mary of the Assumption, by Pierluigi Nervi and Pietro Belluschi. The church is a square, with large piers in the corners supporting a gargantuan lantern, which also doubles as the church’s campanile. The large piers dominate the four corners which have been rendered in finely detailed glass storefronts, effectively making the church more of a standard Greek cross rather than the centrally-focused square it purports to be. I’ll be featuring my own riffs on this project over the coming days, but for now, I’ll let you appreciate the brutal simplicity of the form that started it all.
Though taking its detailing from Greek antiquity, with a Doric portico in antis, this small structure is thoroughly modern in its four-square plan. One enters off-center, in fact, the center is occupied by a column, and the front portico is only made of two columns, with one corner being a bearing wall (this wall is the in antis part). An exedra flanks the main skylit volume. Two variations follow.
Two small moments from Stern’s monograph c. 1985 that I’ll share: A sumptuous ogee-like hallway ceiling profile paired with a simple arched opening and round window at the Mexx Clothing headquarters, Amsterdam; and a rather straightforward Shingle Style house with wonderfully subtle asymmetries in the Hamptons. That is all.
As per the request of one commentor, I spent some time this weekend fleshing out the project featured in last week’s post ‘courtyards, nine squares, and robert a. m. stern‘. Plan with elevations, enlarged plans and axon above; perspective, details, and roof plan below.
One of the joys of home ownership is also one of it’s banes: renovations. I’m painfully aware of the many alterations or changes I would make to our home, and rather than let these become points of consternation or despair, I’d rather use them as moments of critical thought. So I draw. This kitchen is a thought of what I might like to do to our little Spanish cottage if given the wherewithal. Formally, it takes its cues from the European orangerie tradition – somewhere between a living room and a greenhouse, and marries that typology with some Irving Gill-like elements.
We all know what gas stations look like here in America – banal. Yet, the same ‘Mid-Century’ Modernism that is so popular right now also tidied up these rather pedestrian buildings as well. Mies van der Rohe even tried his hand at one in Montreal as part of a larger development. However, decades of neglect and changing cultural tastes have obscured the once minimal elegance of these structures. I drove past an example in Santa Monica that had been covered up in all the various and cheap appliques of ‘Mediterranean’ style. If Modernism could love this typology, could good Classicism? Behold, the fruits of such thinking – Doric porticos and pyramidal skylights.
I was digging through my sketchbooks and found a nice little partial wormseye axonometric drawing that should have been a part of an earlier post. This one may be a bit more difficult to understand, seeing as it’s a pretty unusual type of drawing. But effectively, what I’ve done is drawn a corner of the project looking from underneath the building, as if the ground wasn’t there.
Another Robert A. M. Stern inspired creation- this one more of a direct interpretation of the larger country estates built during the last decades of the 19th Century, collectively referred to as the Shingle Style. Bob Stern has been one of the forerunners in reviving and interpreting the style since the late 70’s. This is a more stylistically ‘correct’ adaptation, with funkier variations to follow.
The other day, my wife and I stumbled upon a small park in West Hollywood dedicated to Irving Gill’s Dodge House, which was irreverently demolished in the 70’s despite local outrage. So naturally, I binged out on some of Gill’s better works. Here’s the first of a few posts- a small spec house for a San Diego developer, c. 1909, along with a detail of the overhang at the front entrance.
For the past three weeks, I’ve kept a volume of Robert A. M. Stern’s work on my bedside table, along with Henry Russell Hitchcock’s biography of H. H. Richardson. But more on Richardson later. The drawing above shows a small garden folly elevation by Stern as well as a nine-square courtyard house it inspired below. More Stern-spiration to come.