THE ARCHITECTURE OF CHOICE: Eclecticism in America, 1880-1930 by Walter C. Kidney

THE ARCHITECTURE OF CHOICE: Eclecticism in America, 1880-1930

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A popular, sympathetic and quite lively survey of the melange of styles -- mishmash some might call it -- that flourished in this country between the period of Mid-Victorianism and the rise of Modernism -- an architecture that gave us rambling Tudor and Norman farmhouses in the suburbs, Wanamaker's store in Philadelphia (commercial palazzo) and adapted St. Peter's Dome for San Francisco's City Hall. The Eclectics -- Stanford White, Bernard Maybeck, Ralph Adams Cram among them -- had studied all aspects of classical style (at least in theory) and felt a need to vary or synthesize several to design structures that were vital and in the spirit of our living tradition. Along about 1928, though, a distinctive, independent style, Modernism, began to emerge, and the Eclectics came to be viewed as dishonest, shallow and negligible. Still, they may make a comeback. Compared with much of what Modernism has produced, there's something to be said for Eclecticism. Who can resist, for example, the Cathedral of Learning (Pittsburgh) -- a Gothic skyscraper with classrooms designed in 17 national motifs, a library from Damascus and a Greek Revival ballroom?

Pub Date: April 1st, 1974
Publisher: Brazilier