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ablarc
08-19-2007, 06:59 PM
Princeton tops U.S. News rankings, again

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0012.jpg

By JUSTIN POPE, AP Education Writer

Princeton holds the top spot in the latest U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the eighth straight year the private, New Jersey school has either tied or held the top slot outright.

Just like last year, Princeton was followed by Harvard at No. 2 and Yale at No. 3 in the controversial rankings. As usual, a few schools moved up or down a slot, but there were no major changes. Stanford was No. 4, followed by Cal Tech and the University of Pennsylvania tied for fifth.

Williams and Amherst were the highest-ranked liberal arts colleges.
New this year: The magazine has included the service academies. The U.S. Naval Academy is ranked No. 20 in the liberal arts college category, and the U.S. Military Academy is No. 22. The U.S. Air Force Academy leads the list of "Best Baccalaureate Colleges" in the western region.

The formula for the rankings includes variables such as graduation and retention rates, faculty and financial resources, and the percentage of alumni donating money to their alma mater. The biggest single variable ? and the most controversial ? is a reputation assessment by peer institutions.

The top 10 national universities were:

1. Princeton University

2. Harvard University

3. Yale University

4. Stanford University

5. California Institute of Technology

University of Pennsylvania (tie)

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

8. Duke University

9. Columbia University

University of Chicago (tie)

* * *

FACTOID:

Setting aside entirely any question about the above list?s validity, it?s striking that five out of ten of the top campuses are characterized by Gothic architecture.

Are even one percent of American colleges in general built in the Gothic style?

When a movie director wants to show the star entering an important public building, he has him climb the long flight of steps up to an august Beaux-Arts pile like the Supreme Court or New York?s Custom House ?or a lesser Beaux-Arts building.

Our conditioning to see such buildings as important is almost Pavlovian. And why not? Their creators certainly thought of them as important; they designed the portentousness right in.

American Collegiate Gothic is a mostly 20th Century phenomenon, but it has almost as much grip on our minds. Three of the colleges on the above list ?Princeton, Yale and Penn-- were founded in the Eighteenth Century and should by rights be Colonial in style. Each preserves a remnant from that era and Gothicized itself in the early years of the last Century ?about the time the other two on the list were getting started: Duke and Chicago.

If you had asked either Duke?s president or his architect, Ralph Adams Cram, if they were consciously projecting an aura of ivory-tower scholarly quality with the design of their buildings, they would have responded with a resounding ?Yes!? Oxford and Cambridge were the paradigm; and everybody knew these were the two best in the world. It was a veritable orgy of Anglophilia.

They imported not just the architectural style, but also the programs that gave rise to the style: the notion of decentralized academic units (?colleges?), which mixed dormitory functions with the academic and even the athletic. Each such unit featured its own dining hall, library, seminar rooms, faculty, endowments, heraldry, traditions, athletic teams (and even some facilities like squash courts).

They even cooked up coats of arms and heraldic devices to differentiate these colleges from each other, but the most brilliant touch was that all were built to enclose verdant gated courtyards walled off from the outside world to concretize the academic separation, the ivory tower, the sense of community, the monastic introspection?

If I could give a struggling college just one piece of advice to improve its standing, its alumni giving and the perceived quality of its academic program, I would say: ?start building in the Gothic style.?

Worked for West Point and Wellesley.

Yale, Penn and Princeton built interesting Modernist buildings while that style raged. These were remarkably compatible with their Gothic predecessors from day one. They projected a certain subtle medievalism through masonry heft and top-drawer design and build (think Rudolph, Saarinen and Kahn). Princeton just completed its first overtly Gothic college in ages: a harbinger of things to come?

As long as design is of such stellar quality, there's no damage to the aura of quality emittted by these campuses --even if the modern buildings come to be hated, as with Rudolph's Art and Architecture Building (a towering artwork however much it's scorned by philistines).

If it's junk, however ... well, junk is junk. At Duke, the modern stuff seems to degrade the swank.

Princeton surveyed its students and found the vast majority wanted to live in a Gothic college.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0010.jpg
Gothic digs at Princeton.

That was partly because Princeton had been building them modernist chefs-d?oeuvre to live in for decades. The modernist masterpieces now looked like this:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0020.jpg
Student accommodations by the highly original genius I.M. Pei.

Consequently the Administration adopted a new building policy. Henceforth the center of the campus --which includes all the undergraduate housing-- will be a Gothic zone to match the buildings loved by everyone save Modernist architects:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0014.jpg

Simultaneously Princeton would adopt the undergraduate college system, each college to have a dining hall, a library, and other common facilities. The student survey showed that?s what undergrads want. In the campus fringes: anything goes.

Construction has started on the first new Gothic college:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0030.jpg
Whitman College, Princeton.

Much of the money for Whitman College was donated by Meg Whitman, Chair of eBay. It?s designed by somewhat-talented revivalist and Driehaus Prize winner, Demetri Porphyrios:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0040.jpg

A polemicist for neo-tradional building methods, Porphyrios? practiced up at Oxbridge:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0042.jpg.http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0044.jpg

The result was pretty good.

Once known as eclectic-friendly, famed pluralist Frank Gehry groused that in this day and age an institution of higher learning should have no truck with traditional architecture; and Robert Venturi, noncomformist mastermind of quasi-revivalist buildings that had once rankled his peers, piped up unexpectedly to agree. Traditional architecture, it seems, provides fodder for architectural comedy routines and riffs, but can?t legitimately be practiced unalloyed.

Porphyrios and Princeton are undeterred. Their building will easily last a thousand years. Only optimism about the future can explain such investment in the long term. Reassuring, that; don?t you think it speaks subliminally to all who can see? It certainly conveys quality; this limestone is solid, not veneered concrete:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0050.jpg
Whitman College: solid stone dining hall under construction, 2007.

Number-One-ranked Princeton has flown the Modernist coop; no longer thrilled by the likes of Pei and Gwathmey, its apostate turnabout might topple distant dominoes in Tulane and Stanford. Already Duke and others are tearing down or recladding Modernist buildings --some driven by aesthetics, others seeking longevity and lower maintenance. A well-built building:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0110.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0140.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0230.jpg

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http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0220.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0240.jpg

photos by John Massengale

Declares Porphyrios? fellow-traveler, the traditionalist architect John Massengale: ?Architects now, while saying that they are promoting the new and the different, are actually fighting for things to remain the same.?

New and different has become the same old thing; sometimes you have to go back to the future --particularly if you?re in a dead end.
http://massengale.typepad.com/venustas/2004/03/whos_afraid_of_.html

Continues Massengale: ?Modernism was the cultural expression of a good deal of the second half of the 20th century, but we?re in the 21st century now, and for most Americans Modernism is just a style ? not a lifestyle or an ideology. It?s normal today to work in a high-tech office and go home at night to a new Traditional Neighborhood...

In a recent article ... the San Francisco Chronicle?s architecture critic talked about a new survey of the hipper-than-hip twenty-somethings in Silicon Valley. ?They all want their own computer and a plasma television, but at the same time they also love the traditional look ... ?We?re working in high-tech impersonal settings all day; we want to go home to Grandma?s house.? That was the exact phrase one used.??

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0150.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0152.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0155.jpg

Porphyrios? original schematic model:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0200.jpg

His original, more anbitious detailing before value engineering:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0210.jpg

Lauritzen family funds Whitman College dormitory

by Eric Quinones

The Lauritzen family of Omaha, Neb., has made a $5.5 million gift to fund the construction of an imposing new gothic dormitory within Whitman College, Princeton University's newest residence complex.

The gift comes from Bruce R. Lauritzen, a member of the class of 1965, a prominent Nebraska philanthropist, chairman of First National Bank of Omaha.

The new dormitory, to be named Lauritzen Hall, will overlook the large lower courtyard of Whitman College. Whitman is the first of Princeton's colleges to be built from the ground up rather than pieced together from existing structures.

As part of a major reorganization of Princeton's residential college system, the college will include students from all four undergraduate classes as well as graduate students.

"This splendid gift brings us closer to the day when we can welcome an expanded student body to a new residential college system that will strengthen the academic and social ties within our University community," said President Shirley M. Tilghman...

"Princeton offers the finest undergraduate education in the country," said Bruce Lauritzen. "Our family's goal is to see that the University not only maintains that excellence but even strengthens it going forward."...

Whitman College, designed in collegiate gothic style by noted architect Demetri Porphyrios, is under construction between Baker Rink and Dillon Gymnasium and scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2007. The new college will make possible an 11 percent increase in Princeton's undergraduate student body, from about 4,600 to 5,100.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0245.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0250.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0255.jpg

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http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0700.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0800.jpg

How it will look in about a thousand years:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0950.jpg

The best of all American Gothic campuses, because the most urban:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/0960.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/princeton/1007.jpg

czsz
08-19-2007, 09:53 PM
Are you implying some kind of link between the Gothic and educational quality (or at least the factors that weigh heavily in rankings methodology?)

The more obvious trend, which applies to almost all the top ten universities you listed, is the architectural branding of each institution. Gothic is simply the most prevalent brand, but to the degree that Princeton's architecture contributes to its aura, at least, the same can be said of Stanford's Spanish Mission style, or Columbia's neoclassicism.

Minor point - the last time I wandered through Princeton, the endless succession of Gothic courtyards was disorienting. This is not to say I blame this on the Gothic - Yale and Oxbridge manage, however, to shed the repetitious quality that plagues the Princeton campus. In all such environments, however, building's like Pei's really stand out. It inspired far more thought on my part about how a college dormitory works - and what it represents - than another Gothic college courtyard. Shouldn't universities - at least in part - challenge students' understanding of art with their built environments, or simply resurrect time-tested styles ad nauseam in the attempt to spoon feed prospective students their Platonic ideal of what the academy looks like? Can students think outside the box in an institution that looks as if it's never tried to do so itself?

kennedy
08-19-2007, 10:15 PM
Other than the gothic link to architecture, how am I benefitting by reading your little essay?

vanshnookenraggen
08-19-2007, 11:37 PM
You gotta get yourself a blog, ablarc.

czsz: I would argue that it is not the style that is important but that the style possesses a quality of humanity that encourages learning. Gothic, Spanish Mission, Neoclassical, these all have the capacity for grandeur that inspires the mind. The failure of most modern campuses is that they are not designed to inspire but to dominate and intimidate. Modernist wanted a sterile environment that was devoid of the clutter of humanity. They didn't think that that was good for the mind. They were wrong as hell and it is good to see colleges stepping back to realize this. Maybe once we get back on track we can create an architectural style worthy to be a successor to these fine works.

ablarc
08-20-2007, 06:15 AM
Are you implying some kind of link between the Gothic and educational quality
Yeah, but it's not my implication; it's made by the culture.

(or at least the factors that weigh heavily in rankings methodology?)
That may be real, but it's subliminal.

The more obvious trend, which applies to almost all the top ten universities you listed, is the architectural branding of each institution. Gothic is simply the most prevalent brand, but to the degree that Princeton's architecture contributes to its aura, at least, the same can be said of Stanford's Spanish Mission style, or Columbia's neoclassicism.
Absolutely, this is true.

Minor point - the last time I wandered through Princeton, the endless succession of Gothic courtyards was disorienting. This is not to say I blame this on the Gothic - Yale and Oxbridge manage, however, to shed the repetitious quality that plagues the Princeton campus.
My impression exactly. Couldn't agree more.

In all such environments, however, building's like Pei's really stand out. It inspired far more thought on my part about how a college dormitory works - and what it represents - than another Gothic college courtyard. Shouldn't universities - at least in part - challenge students' understanding of art with their built environments, or simply resurrect time-tested styles ad nauseam in the attempt to spoon feed prospective students their Platonic ideal of what the academy looks like?
The answer you get depends on how you ask the question. You could ask that question differently. In any case, the Pei building is not long for this world. Ask yourself why. Is it hated as much as Boston City Hall or Rudolph's buildings? And possibly for the same reasons?

Can students think outside the box in an institution that looks as if it's never tried to do so itself?
The university should teach subtlety of mind. That faculty enables the sensitive to distinguish Gamble Rogers' endless inventiveness from the plodding of Porphyrios. My complaint isn't with his Gothic style; it's that he's not a brilliant architect.

ablarc
08-20-2007, 06:22 AM
I would argue that it is not the style that is important but that the style possesses a quality of humanity that encourages learning. Gothic, Spanish Mission, Neoclassical, these all have the capacity for grandeur that inspires the mind.
Right on.

The failure of most modern campuses is that they are not designed to inspire but to dominate and intimidate.
Often modernist buildings are just boring. What does that do to your mind?

ablarc
08-20-2007, 06:23 AM
Other than the gothic link to architecture, how am I benefitting by reading your little essay?
Perhaps not at all. (For you to decide.)

justin
08-20-2007, 06:48 AM
I had the bad luck (or perhaps it was Princeton's) of visiting Princeton for the first time shortly after a trip to Oxford. Even though much of Oxford gothic is fake as well, the Americans have only ever managed a pale immitation. American gothic campuses are gray and cramped by comparison -- you'd think that the honey-colored limestone that is a good part of Oxford's magic would be the easiest thing to copy.

Not that Princeton or Yale are ugly, far from it; on the whole, I like them better than Harvard's sea of pseudo-quasi-neo-Georgian. If you need a safe and humane style that will successfully project the brand, by all means, pile on the gargoyles. A lot of Modernism was just plain bad, but it was intellectually charged in the way that polite copies never are, Is it logically impossible to recapture that energy and innovation without repeating the mistakes? Can there not be a style that is pleasant and new? After all, Gothic was at some point. If I knew what it should be, I wouldn't be an armchair critic.

There's a sad, though not necessarily meaningful, symbolism in great universities chosing safety of faked antiquity over innovation.

justin

statler
08-20-2007, 07:07 AM
Am I right in calling BU's main building a weird deco/Gothic hybrid or is it just bad Gothic?

bosdevelopment
08-20-2007, 08:15 AM
Am I right in calling BU's main building a weird deco/Gothic hybrid or is it just bad Gothic?

I'd term CAS as a precast bunch of crap.

Patrick
08-20-2007, 10:08 AM
Thanks for this post I thoroughly enjoyed it

There does seem to be a link between Gothic and educational quality, czsz, but I think it may have more to do with the amount of time certain institutions have been around

older universities seem to have been constructed during a time when emulating the gothic style of British institutions was the norm; add to this the fact that they have had substantially more time to build their academic reputations, and the link seems obvious to me

any potential link between gothic aesthetics and educational inspiration may have developed after the fact, when the general public, witnessing the correlation, started making the same association

The University of Vermont, founded in 1791, is pretty gothic, I'll share some photos if anyone is interested

I think the architecture lends itself to a feeling of prestige

ablarc
08-20-2007, 10:13 AM
Am I right in calling BU's main building a weird deco/Gothic hybrid or is it just bad Gothic?
Deco-Gothic.

Other examples: Gamble Rogers' hospitals/medical schools on New York's East River, Hood's American Radiator Building, misc. buildings by Eliel Saarinen.

The blend works pretty well most of the time.

ablarc
08-20-2007, 03:39 PM
I had the bad luck (or perhaps it was Princeton's) of visiting Princeton for the first time shortly after a trip to Oxford. Even though much of Oxford gothic is fake as well, the Americans have only ever managed a pale immitation. American gothic campuses are gray and cramped by comparison -- you'd think that the honey-colored limestone that is a good part of Oxford's magic would be the easiest thing to copy.
Yale has it. In the sun after a thunderstorm, it glows like burnished gold. By contrast, Princeton is a flinty grey.

Is it logically impossible to recapture that energy and innovation without repeating the mistakes? Can there not be a style that is pleasant and new? After all, Gothic was at some point. If I knew what it should be, I wouldn't be an armchair critic.
In fact, you'd be a genius. There have only been three styles in the entire history of Western architecture: classical, medieval and modern. Deco is modern with ornament, and Art Nouveau is pre-modern.





Why does no one complain about H.H. Richardson's revival of Romanesque medievalism? Oh, I guess he was sanctified by the popes of modernism as a precursor --a kind of running dog of modernism. That's based entirely on one quirk --ganged strip windows-- and he cribbed that from Tudor.

Beton Brut
08-20-2007, 04:19 PM
Nice thread, ablarc. I'm with justin, in my preference of Gothic over classical campuses, although it's hard to argue with Jefferson's work at university of Virginia.

This struck me:

Why does no one complain about H.H. Richardson's revival of Romanesque medievalism? Oh, I guess he was sanctified by the popes of modernism as a precursor --a kind of running dog of modernism. That's based entirely on one quirk --ganged strip windows-- and he cribbed that from Tudor.

There's a little more to this -- Richardson is pre-organic (as opposed to pre-modern), in his committed, no-nonsense use of materials and by placing buildings on a rustic stylobate. Wright learned all of this (through Louis Sullivan), who was surely inspired by this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Glessner_House) fine Richardson home in Chicago.

If the "Moderns" claim Richardson as "one of their own," it may be because they saw this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasmuth_Portfolio) and drew their own map.

bdurden
08-21-2007, 06:58 PM
Am I right in calling BU's main building a weird deco/Gothic hybrid or is it just bad Gothic?

I'd term CAS as a precast bunch of crap.

And yet it is neither precast nor crap. It is neo-gothic.

dbhstockton
08-22-2007, 12:30 AM
Just an aside: The central figure in the collegiate Gothic movement was esteemed Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram, one of the last times Boston would export an architectural trend.

ablarc
08-23-2007, 05:04 PM
I had the bad luck (or perhaps it was Princeton's) of visiting Princeton for the first time shortly after a trip to Oxford. Even though much of Oxford gothic is fake as well, the Americans have only ever managed a pale imitation. American gothic campuses are gray and cramped by comparison

PRINCETON:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccollege/0010.jpg

Gray, to be sure.

But cramped? There is too much space, and it?s all the same and average. Compared with Cambridge, the spaces are shapeless, unmodulated, monotonous, unvaried, suburban and weakly-defined.

And yet ... yes, cramped. I can see why you felt that way. Desiccated by small thought, cramped because there?s no largesse. Banal, commonplace, flat, ho hum, lifeless, matter-of-fact, ordinary, pedestrian, predictable, prosaic, routine, tame, tedious, uncreative, uninspired, unoriginal, unromantic, usual.

And the space leaks from here to Timbuktu. There?s simultaneously too much space and too little space. This is the suburbs after all, and that means you?re really always in the same space.

And as elsewhere in Suburbia ... there are even parking lots!

By contrast,

CAMBRIDGE:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0020.jpg
A variety of spaces, some huge, some tiny, some channels of space, but all defined. The buildings stretch to the limits of their lots, gulping space. That is the urban condition. None of the space is leaky or infinite; that would be the suburban condition. You?ll find that aplenty in Princeton.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0030.jpg
Likewise the landscaping is neither standardized nor perfunctory. Some courts are treeless (the architecture?s beauty suffices; others are choked with trees; and yet others feature a central bosk.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0040.jpg
Town meets gown intimately and irregularly, as in Harvard Square. Redheads mixed with blondes (some platinum).

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0050.jpg
Though building footprints may vary, the scale does not. Whether gown or town, there?s a fine busyness of articulation that bans the dreary and the oppressive --except maybe in the two modernist courtyards toward the upper right? Vertical bands, horizontal bands ? Why do we need bands at all?

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0060.jpg
Organic, huh? A thousand vacuoles, all breathing.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0070.jpg
An essay in scale: the King?s chapel paltrifies a classical fa?ade just beyond that elsewhere would seem mighty. Here you can take delight that it?s mighty diminutive in its setting. (Note the market in the square at far right.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0080.jpg
Zooming out a bit?

With great aplomb, Powell and Moya?s riverside modernist college addition walks the rope between space making and modernist spatial ideology:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0090.jpg

It partly defines a courtyard and partly flaunts itself as a free-standing object:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0100.jpg

Below, the very definition of landscape architecture. Is there anything even remotely comparable at Princeton?

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0110.jpg
Look: the landscape is architecture, and the architecture landscape. Together they espouse a jagged skyline, rhythmic repeats, common mass and a squared-up blockiness to disburse in Eden ... quadrangular chambers with emerald floors.

And the willows weep contrapuntally right into the water.

Check out the spatial events greeting punters on that river.

Imagine the foliate gloom of both approaches to that little bridge.

Live vicariously the sequence from court with round green rug and mop of trees (center); then through the building by (doubtless) a vaulted passage; then burst to the great outdoors in all its ... dense and baffling shade! Relief comes brief above the luminosity of water, then back into the leafy tunnel on the bank beyond.

Do we even have the courage in this country to let a tree touch a building? We do everything according to rules and ?knowledge? to which we ascribe ironclad inviolability, and those rules are based on conventional wisdom. Little wonder, then, that our products are predictable, boring, uninspired ...

To finish, check out the elaborate composition of verdure in the upper right; complicated by superfluous design, this part perhaps satisfies the least.


Funded by the king and regal in the simplicity of its parti, King?s College Chapel functions perhaps as England?s Taj Mahal:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0120.jpg
To my eye, this building has the most beautiful interior I?ve seen. Across the street: the commercial scrabble of High Street shops.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0130.jpg
Many Cambridge colleges occupy a swathe between a principal commercial street (left) and the River Cam (right). On the far side, a courtyarded Modernist college interacts with an arc of Gothic Revival (top right).

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0140.jpg
An aggregation of rental punts suggests the volume of picnic-bound river traffic on a sunny Sunday. Tourists and Cantabrigians alike avail themselves of these tricky boats. The oarsman stands in the rear like a gondolier and hopes he doesn?t fall. Of course the inexperienced regularly get themselves dunked ?particularly if their pole gets stuck in the mud.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0150.jpg
Hoary with age, fine-grained medieval buildings fill both town and gown and contrast stylistically with a dignified temple front (far left). This faces some particularly diminutive cottages that give some idea of the urban texture of Cambridge in the Middle Ages.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0160.jpg
It appears that most of the medieval-looking stuff hereabouts is 19th Century. Some slightly jarring modern intrusions are also inserted.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0170.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0180.jpg
It?s not quite a banality-free zone; some of the stuff at right looks almost like public housing.

Gothic is all about poking into the sky:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0190.jpg

Gables galore:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0200.jpg

Oxford exhibits a similar pattern:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0210.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0220.jpg

Not hard to spot where the botanists hang out:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0230.jpg

The zone of high architecture reaches a crescendo with Wren and Gibbs. Here buildings stand free as objects; you can walk completely around their rotund forms:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0240.jpg

Oxford in miniature, Eton, an elite primary and high school:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0250.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0260.jpg

The pattern superimposed on an American city?s grid, New Haven. Yale:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0270.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0280.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0290.jpg

The pattern again ?

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0300.jpg

?but in a different style:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0310.jpg
Hard to tell it?s not a model photo or rendering.

Stanford, another university in America?s top ten:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0320.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0330.jpg

Outwards from the center, things start to get less delightful, and rows of parked cars start to appear. But the primo abomination is the one with the flat roof. Even a mansard of red tile would have been better:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0340.jpg

Some buildings below are so perfunctory and uncaring that their architects should be shot. Summarily and without trial:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0350.jpg

Red roofs again, but this time in Gothic:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0360.jpg
University of Chicago, another top-rated.

Two vicious interlopers spoil every scene they?re part of. One sits at the end of an axis; at least that one has the decency to put on a rudimentary red hat. The other is totally void of redeeming characteristics:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0370.jpg

Across the street, the usual jumble of Modernist chaos, worse than Longwood. Where would you rather find yourself?:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0370.jpg

How could they have allowed a major axis to end so badly?:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0390.jpg

Even worse. Not even the street is respected by arbitrary and uninteresting sculpture-making. Also a waste of space:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0400.jpg

Quadrangles in New York formed by free-standing Beaux-Arts chunks:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0410.jpg
Columbia, a top-tenner

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0420.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0430.jpg

The formula in Colonial clothes:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/0500.jpg
Harvard. At least there?s a river, but it?s a far cry from the Cam.

Not that Princeton or Yale are ugly, far from it; on the whole, I like them better than Harvard's sea of pseudo-quasi-neo-Georgian. If you need a safe and humane style that will successfully project the brand, by all means, pile on the gargoyles. A lot of Modernism was just plain bad, but it was intellectually charged in the way that polite copies never are, Is it logically impossible to recapture that energy and innovation without repeating the mistakes? Can there not be a style that is pleasant and new? After all, Gothic was at some point. If I knew what it should be, I wouldn't be an armchair critic.

There's a sad, though not necessarily meaningful, symbolism in great universities choosing safety of faked antiquity over innovation.
Maybe it?s just fitting into a tradition ?like speaking English and wearing clothes. Maybe each of us should invent his own language and ?

.

Beton Brut
08-23-2007, 09:19 PM
Ablarc -- many thanks for another insightful post. And thanks for reminding me that in my youth, I failed utterly to make the most of my education, and as an adult, I haven't traveled nearly enough.

dbhstockton
08-23-2007, 09:46 PM
Thanks for that post. Some eye-level views would have been nice.

ablarc
08-27-2007, 06:15 AM
Some eye-level views would have been nice.
Not exactly always from street level, and not of Cambridge or Oxford, these may serve as stopgaps. They do exemplify the care and attention to detail that Collegiate Gothic practitioners often display.

A gargoyle from the Twenties, bearing the scales of justice:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0010.jpg
Yale Law School.

It?s one of plenty that festoon this institution:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0020.jpg
Criminals in the middle, cop with cap and nightstick at right.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0025.jpg
Windbag prof and sacked-out students.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0030.jpg
?U R A Joke.?

Also at the Law School, distinguished jurists dignify the windows. Architect Rogers specified that workmen should randomly break panes in newly-installed windows and then repair them with lead. The patina of centuries compressed into a single day:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0070.jpg

More broken panes:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0080.jpg

The Age of Craftsmanship:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0090.jpg

Ornamental sensibility extends throughout these buildings:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0100.jpg

It?s obvious to the student that somebody cared:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0150.jpg

Makes you feel special. Folks who feel special might do special things.

Two of them became President. The wife of one of them --whom she met here-- is vying to be next.

Library entrance encrusted with talismans of wisdom (perhaps not strictly gargoyles):

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0180.jpg

Reverence and awe at the checkout desk:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0190.jpg

From the stacks you can play voyeur:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0195.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0196.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0197.jpg

Or you can stroll the cloister for inspiration to strike:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0200.jpg

...while contemplating the vaults of eternity (now equipped, alas, with fire-marshal clutter):

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0220.jpg

Framed views from the medieval Age of Scholarship:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0250.jpg

Trumbull College Master?s House entrance court:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0300.jpg
A previous master parked his MG-TD in this court. It completed the scene in racing green.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0320.jpg

Stage sets for monastic learning:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0350.jpg.http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0370.jpg

Clearly King?s Chapel, but also the Law Library. Study as worship:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0390.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0400.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0700.jpg.http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0800.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gargoyles/0900.jpg



Photos by Altopower, Flickr.

Joe_Schmoe
08-27-2007, 03:43 PM
Amazing post! I think that the modernists are slitting their own throats with their "everything has to be modern, no ornamentation, only modern materials" dogma. Modernism started as a reaction to the oppressive rules of traditional architecture, now it is the moderns who are the dogmatists. It all goes back to modernism's pretension that they had overcome history. They fail to realize that modernism is now just another historical style. I have no problem with architects working in a variety of historical styles--the great Beaux Arts masters could work in Gothic, Romanesque, Italianate, Greek, Federal, whatever the project demanded. The new/old task of architects is to pick the proper historical style for their project. Of course, if a blank slate becomes available, the way the massive area of the Prudential Center was in the 50s, contemporary style is the way to go.

czsz
08-27-2007, 05:00 PM
Modernism is sort of a red herring. Has anyone even been a true modernist since Philip Johnson swapped allegiances in 1970something?

Not really. When most oppose a gothic dormitory or Georgian student center, they do so on the grounds that such buildings are at best very accurate replications or highly belaboured homages to the genius of one or another innovative figure in the past. Yes, use fieldstone and crown moulding or whatever, but why the need for an exact replica (or even a very literal evocation) of Christ College Oxford? It isn't buying into architectural teleology to demand today's architects do as the first practitioners of the Gothic or Georgian did in their time - be inventive.

ablarc
08-28-2007, 06:06 AM
When most oppose a gothic dormitory or Georgian student center, they do so on the grounds that such buildings are at best very accurate replications or highly belaboured homages to the genius of one or another innovative figure in the past.
They may oppose it on those grounds, but the accusation mostly doesn't hold water; problem is the accusers haven't acquired the knowledge for an informed opinion. The accusation doesn't apply to Cram, Porphyrios or (least of all) to the supremely inventive James Gamble Rogers. Greater familiarity with both the revivalists and their models will cure this misconception.

Yes, use fieldstone and crown moulding or whatever, but why the need for an exact replica (or even a very literal evocation) of Christ College Oxford?
As you say, this need doesn't exist, and neither do the exact replicas or literal evocations. There are veiled references to be sure, but these exist in all architecture including modernist work; no one designs in an amnesiac vacuum. Every time I finish a design, I can identify the influences and precedents. Any architect who tells you otherwise is a liar.

It isn't buying into architectural teleology to demand today's architects do as the first practitioners of the Gothic or Georgian did in their time - be inventive.
Mostly they are. To appreciate that: sharpen your skills at connoisseurship.

dbhstockton
08-28-2007, 11:15 AM
I'm new to this forum, so I'm not sure exactly where you're coming from, czsz (I'm very familiar with ablarc's sensibilities from WiredNewYork *wink*). Were you criticizing both the early twentieth century revivalists and contemporary architects trying work within that idiom? If this is not the case, then Ablarc's comments are a little unfair.

czsz
08-28-2007, 02:50 PM
Ablarc, it's unlike you to hurl accusations of ignorance while not at least attempting to educate. I don't want to hear that Rogers was "supremely inventive," I want to hear how. And yes, I've taken the Yale tour and know all about his desire to have windows broken and patched to better fool the viewer into believing he's in a mediaeval courtyard. Yes, I know he had to work in the context of a rectilinear city block, an obstacle that never really plagued Oxbridge. I know he achieved the trick of half-gothic half-Georgian facades.

Is any of this really creativity at work, though, or was Rogers simply attempting to adapt a style to the needs and desires of his client?

[revivalism] exist[s] in all architecture including modernist work

Again the spectre of modernism! Traditionalists appear to require the foil of a consistent foe; invention is too slippery a sparring partner. No, not all critics of traditional architecture are hypocrites who themselves aspire to see Mies raised from the dead. What I am attempting to imagine is a world beyond the style vocabulary of 1950. Modernism was new once. So was the Gothic. What is new today? Have we passed some point after which we are doomed to cyclical revivals?

Every time I finish a design, I can identify the influences and precedents

I'm not arguing that inventiveness ought to emerge from a vacuum, simply that it (especially in the context of a university) accept its historical influences and yet transcend them to a greater degree than what Rogers et al aspired to.

Mostly [traditionalists] are [inventive]. To appreciate that: sharpen your skills at connoisseurship.

Might not the compulsion toward "sharpening" have to do with a degree of subtlety in the inventiveness of traditional architects that makes them not creative figures but mere tweakers and adapters?

Nonetheless I'm willing to try seeing a sharper world through your spectacles. Bring on another photoessay?

ablarc
08-28-2007, 05:08 PM
Were you criticizing both the early twentieth century revivalists and contemporary architects trying work within that idiom? If this is not the case, then Ablarc's comments are a little unfair.
^ Why?

That naughty architect. Look, he's working in the classical, gothic or whatever style --and this is the 20th Century. Tut, tut.

Wait...! is it the early 20th Century or the late 20th Century?

What has really changed since the early 20th Century?

Thing that bothers me is these things are always couched in moralistic terms. Like purse-lipped schoolmarms we declare this is what an architect should or shouldn't be doing as though eternal architectural verities were conveyed by a theory of history.

I long ago stopped bothering my head with such fruitless questions. If the architect's product pleases and leaves the environment improved, hey, kick back and enjoy it. No need to cluck judgmentally because you think it's in the wrong style. Eyes are better to see with than theories.

What an architect should do is design good looking buildings that work well. Looks good, works well? It's fine; check theories at the door. Thank you very much.

Let's get on with making nice places whichever way we know how. There are plenty of incompetents who would blow any style they attempted. No reason to encourage them with theories that ascribe originality to what may only be ineptitude.

* * *

Czsz, essay on the way (people always give me homework ;)) --though possibly without photos.

Didn't mean to ruffle feathers; few these days are actually steeped in what it takes to read a traditional building accurately; both architects and connoisseurs are handicapped by not really knowing the thought processes of the other. This is aggravated by how both subjects are taught.

Architects are taught history courses mostly by art historians. Art historians know little about the actual process of designing a building, so they can only talk about the product --which they connect to the putative inevitability of zeitgeist history-- as you and other intelligent laymen do-- rather than to the design process, which would be far more relevant to their students' education.

So the student is left with a sense of history's irrelevance to his design process. He doesn't know how to use it, because his history professor doesn't either. There's no help from his design profs either; they likewise haven't been taught the connection. It takes someone rigorously trained in art history and architecture to cross the bridge; that's what makes Robert Stern so effective at what he does.

Having been trained in its methods, a student's design instructors are able to make the connection between modernist theory and history and the current design process. Consequently so can the students; about modern architecture, they have more to teach their history professors than those professors have to teach the students.

So: history seems dead and irrelevant to the budding architect, while zeitgeist theory relegates it to disreputability --chiefly on the word of architects themselves, their theoreticians and apologists.

The discussion never rises above vague and wholly vaporous assertions of appropriateness and intimations of sleaze. I prefer to take such theories with a large grain of salt, and leave my aesthetic judgments to the evidence of my eyes.

In short, I don't give a rat's ass about the style of a building. If it looks good, does the job it was designed for, improves the context and gives me a little something to ponder, it's OK with me. Sad that so few buildings meet these criteria.



(All the architects are off turgidly being creative.)

Beton Brut
08-28-2007, 05:35 PM
Pardon my late reply to your question -- it's a good one!

Has anyone even been a true modernist since Philip Johnson swapped allegiances in 1970something?

A few names (there are others):

Paul Rudolph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Rudolph_%28architect%29)
Hugh Stubbins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Stubbins_Jr.)
Edward Larrabee Barnes (http://www.greatbuildings.com/architects/Edward_Larabee_Barnes.html)
John Lautner (http://www.johnlautner.org/home.html)
Albert Frey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Frey)

A case can be made that, in different ways, Rudolph, Lautner, and Barnes were all adherents to aspects of Critical Regionalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_regionalism) on certain projects. Barnes's Haystack Mountain School (http://www.haystack-mtn.org/campus.php) in Maine has the same approach to materials and the vernacular as Charles Moore's Sea Ranch. Rudolph's work in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia shows an informed awareness of local conditions and values. Lautner's work began with an intimate understanding of the site, and the owners priorities.

Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you what any of this has to do with Collegiate Gothic.

dbhstockton
08-28-2007, 10:16 PM
Easy, now.


What has really changed since the early 20th Century?

Do you really mean that? Would you like to take that back?

Thing that bothers me is these things are always couched in moralistic terms. Like purse-lipped schoolmarms we declare this is what an architect should or shouldn't be doing as though eternal architectural verities were conveyed by a theory of history.

Weren't the revivals "couched in moralistic terms" and based on specific theories of history (ie. Western civilization got off track with the Renaissance)?

You're arguing that architects should have a knowledge of convention, precedent, tradition, etc. I'm with you. I know It's lonely, but don't assume you're all alone out there and no one else can see the beauty of our architectural heritage. I don't have any ideological allegiances. And I have had to learn about the true richness of convention on my own time, outside of architecture school.

I also understand your weariness with this kind of debate.

Like you, I would like architecture to be more oriented towards craft than art--I enjoy subtlety and refinement more than stylistic experimentation for its own sake. But the theorizing and morality are integral to architecture. Architecture is too vital a collective endeavor; the consequences of thoughtless building are too severe. Unless you're building a villa, you have to better than "pretty" and "works well." I guess you could broaden the idea "works well."

Well, I've rambled enough. I was about to start talking about Ruskin, but I think I'll call it a night... Girlfriend wants some attention... Oh, wait, that's none of your business...

ablarc
08-29-2007, 06:40 AM
What has really changed since the early 20th Century?

Do you really mean that? Would you like to take that back?
Plenty has changed, but none of it compels a specific architectural change --unless you so assert, which is mere historico-deterministic fluff. The opposite can be asserted with equal fervor --and I do.

Thing that bothers me is these things are always couched in moralistic terms. Like purse-lipped schoolmarms we declare this is what an architect should or shouldn't be doing as though eternal architectural verities were conveyed by a theory of history.

Weren't the revivals "couched in moralistic terms" and based on specific theories of history (ie. Western civilization got off track with the Renaissance)?
They were, but so what? You've identified the historical roots of the misconception, which coincided with the rise of still-prevalent zeitgeist theory; no more truth to it when spouted by a revivalist.

Modernists are now revivalists struggling for their style's survival faced with a hostile public. Isn't that a large portion of nimbyism's appeal? We don't like your style, so we'll talk about context and height. On this board, everyone reviles Rudolph and City Hall but justin, beton brut and me --and maybe czsz.

Folks call for "originality", but end up hating it once it gets familiar and dirty. Isn't that what you'd expect if all you look at is a building's originality and newness? How can mere originality survive the onslaught of time, which inevitably brings familiarity --along with dirt, the enemy of newness.

You're arguing that architects should have a knowledge of convention, precedent, tradition, etc. I'm with you. I know It's lonely, but don't assume you're all alone out there and no one else can see the beauty of our architectural heritage. I don't have any ideological allegiances. And I have had to learn about the true richness of convention on my own time, outside of architecture school.

I also understand your weariness with this kind of debate.
Glad we agree.

Like you, I would like architecture to be more oriented towards craft than art--I enjoy subtlety and refinement more than stylistic experimentation for its own sake.
I'm for art as much as I'm for craft, but I'm against ideology and the stylistic fetishism it brings.

But the theorizing and morality are integral to architecture. Architecture is too vital a collective endeavor; the consequences of thoughtless building are too severe.
Nothing wrong with theories if they're right and useful for getting the job done. Modernism's anti-urban and sculptural theories engendered suburban space and scale. That was the wrong job to get done.

Unless you're building a villa, you have to better than "pretty" and "works well." I guess you could broaden the idea "works well."
That's right; from your thoughtful comments, I'm sure our definitions of "works well" are identical.

Well, I've rambled enough. I was about to start talking about Ruskin, but I think I'll call it a night...
Problem with Ruskin: he's like the Bible; he can be misused to justify almost anything.

Girlfriend wants some attention...
Beats talking about architecture.

Oh, wait, that's none of your business...
No... But some other time I'd like to hear your thoughts as a student on the comments I made re architectural education and history. (I give homework too ;))

ablarc
09-08-2007, 10:08 PM
Princeton?s Whitman College is finished. Its design is soulless and often clumsy because its architect has only modest talent, but the construction quality is very high. At Boston College, this would be the best building.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/020.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/030.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/040.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/045.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/050.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/060.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/062.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/065.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/070.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/080.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/090.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/100.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/110.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/whitman/130.jpg

Photos by chantaklaus, Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12699537@N06/1323821090/in/set-72157601860414696/

czsz
09-08-2007, 10:58 PM
Wow, who decided to add the tudor dormers, the tackily inscribed college name, and the light stone that so abrasively mismatches the dark Princeton fieldstone above?

vanshnookenraggen
09-09-2007, 03:14 AM
It was a good idea on paper but as ablarc pointed out the architect understood what to do but could have executed the designs better. I like the circle windows but they don't quite work where they are, I also think they might be too small but whatever.

bdurden
09-09-2007, 09:54 AM
I actually think the small circular windows are the high point of this building--everything else is so over sized its almost cartoonish.

ablarc
12-25-2007, 09:30 AM
...so over sized it's almost cartoonish.


As a style, Gothic often derives its effects from jarring juxtapositions of scale. Check out how the tower seems much too big for the building it adorns at right on the square. Almost seems like part of some other building. Out of scale, for sure, but also the source of the building's power:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/11111.jpg

bdurden
12-25-2007, 11:38 AM
^It seems the small, intricate details of the tower allow for the juxaposition--out of scale yes, but connected to the base because it grows out of it like an organism.

ablarc
12-27-2007, 05:39 AM
^ Oh, I dunno.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/gothiccolleges/22222.jpg

bdurden
12-27-2007, 08:57 AM
^ Oh, I dunno.


Why not?

ablarc
12-27-2007, 03:43 PM
^ Still seems like this giant thing plunked on top.

czsz
12-28-2007, 12:26 AM
I have a feeling that building's design has less to do with the strictures of "the Gothic" as with its checkered past:

The belfry was added to the main market square around 1240, when Bruges was prospering as an important center of the Flemish cloth industry. After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt...The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was added between 1482 to 1486, and capped with a wooden spire bearing an image of Saint Michael, banner in hand and dragon underfoot. The spire did not last long: a lightning strike in 1493 reduced it to ashes, and destroyed the bells as well. A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some two-and-a-half centuries, before it, too, fell victim to flames in 1741. The spire was never replaced again, thus making the current height of the building somewhat lower than in the past; but an openwork stone parapet in Gothic style was added to the rooftop in 1822.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfry_of_Bruges

ablarc
02-05-2008, 06:39 AM
1486: when the building achieved its present form. Still Gothic times. Spire would have even exacerbated the scale disparity.

palindrome
02-20-2008, 05:26 PM
At Boston College, this would be the best building.

In what regard? If purely gothic, i think some of BC's current buildings beat it. Particularly Bapst hall. I'm not contesting you, i am interested in knowing why.

tobyjug
03-28-2008, 02:05 AM
http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm278/tobydog_photos/L1010985.jpg

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm278/tobydog_photos/CopyofL1020023.jpg

Douglas Hall at McGill University. Scottish baronial style.

JoeGallows
07-27-2008, 10:40 PM
Digging up an oldie, but a goodie.

University of Toronto

The campus was remarkably permeable, as we were able to wander through cloister, courtyard and entrance halls unimpeded.

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT1.jpg

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT2.jpg

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT3.jpg

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT4.jpg

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT5.jpg

A slightly more modern take on the cloister:

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT6.jpg

http://fb.xenostarz.com/joestuff/UofT7.jpg

ablarc
07-27-2008, 11:10 PM
Digging up an oldie, but a goodie.

University of Toronto
That's a real find, Joe. Thanks for adding it to the collection.