Beaux-Arts

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Architectural Style

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Contents

Background

Beaux-Arts architecture was first conceived in France in the late 17th century. This style of architecture was highly influential in the United States, Canada, Australia and Argentina from 1880-1920. [1]

History

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The concept of Beaux-Arts began in France in the late 1600s and would become very influential within the nation during the next hundred years. Beaux-Arts was inspired by neoclassical architecture styles taught at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

The school in which Beaux-Arts draws its name is a prominent art school with over 350 years of history and a notable list of alumni.

Beaux-Arts would make a resurgence in a host of other nations from 1880-1920. Beaux-Arts architecture is heavily influenced by Imperial Roman architecture.

Use In Building Construction

Beaux-Arts characteristics

  • Flat roof
  • Rusticated and raised first story
  • Hierarchy of spaces
  • Arched and pedimented doors
  • Symmetry
  • Statuary sculpture, murals, mosaics, and other artwork, all coordinated in theme to assert the identity of the building
  • Classical architectural details: balustrades, pilasters, garlands, cartouches, acroteria, with a prominent display of

richly detailed clasps, brackets and supporting consoles

Building Materials

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Beaux-Arts buildings were designed to make a formal statement. Thus their materials tend to be of the best and most expensive quality. Predominantly used material is light- colored stone, often limestone, and often richly worked with rooftop sculptural elements, quoins and rustication.

Sometimes stone is used in combination with light-colored brick to save money. Sometimes the material is cast stone or, in lesser examples, cast concrete. For lamp standards, fittings and details, glazed terra cotta is sometimes used as well a wrought iron-looking material. [2]

Materials of note on interiors include marble (often colorful and richly veined), polished woods (usually dark), alabaster, terrazzo floors, polished brass and bronze.

Examples of Beaux-Art Condominiums

Century 25 Central Park West, New York City, NY

The Century Apartments, now known as The Century Condominiums, was the final multi-towered apartment building to be built along Central Park West and is the sister building of the Majestic, which was built two years earlier several blocks north. Both buildings were designed by Irwin S. Chanin and his architectural development firm. The Century was named after The Century Theatre which was demolished in 1930 to allow the apartment building to be constructed in its place.

The Century has been hailed as a masterpiece of the Art Deco style of architecture and when built, The Century stood in stark contrast to the rest of the buildings on Central Park West that were mostly built in the Beaux-Arts style. The Century also holds several official titles, including being recognized by the United States National Register of Historic Places on November 9th, 1982. The building was later named a local landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservations Commission on July 10th, 1985, and it is currently one of the contributing properties of the Central Park West Historic District.

110 Livingston 110 Livingston Street, New York, NY

110 Livingston is a 16-story concrete mid-rise boasting 299 luxuriously appointed units, with ceilings that range from 10 to a sprawling 20 feet high.

Architects McKim, Mead, and White designed the original structure in the mid-1920s, near the tail end of Beaux-Arts influence on American architecture. As a result, the building is a combination of simpler pre-modern lines, and sculptural decoration. Though that decoration is more conservative – more natural. Low relief carvings or figures are incorporated relatively subtly into the design of Livingston’s moldings, columns, and cornices. For more on Beaux-Arts traditions, see the reference section at the end of this article.

It is interesting to note that, when the building was converted to condos in 2003, developers added a few extra floors on top. Rather than attempt to mimic and maintain the more intricate carvings of the existing structure, new designers elected to “cap” the building in modern glass and steel – a sticking point for some critics, a nod to unity and progress for others.

Dorilton 171 West 71st Street, New York, NY

Found at the intersection of West 71st Street and Broadway, the Dorilton finds itself in the heart of the Upper West Side, a residential neighborhood with the reputation of attracting workers from the arts and culture industries. Originally called the Bloomingdale District, the Upper West Side has been primarily a residential neighborhood throughout its history, with industrial activity located along the Hudson River. The arrival of subway lines into the Upper West Side brought with them population surges and residential development, and in particular, numerous immigrant groups moved into the area.

Designed by the architectural firm of Janes & Leo, the Dorilton quickly established itself as one of the most prominent Beaux-Arts buildings in the city. In 1974, the Dorilton was named a New York City landmark and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places followed in 1983.

Liberty Tower 55 Liberty Street, New York City, NY

Liberty Tower is situated on a plot of land measuring 60 feet by 80 feet and rises straight up without any setbacks. Subsequent zoning regulations were imposed banning straight and tall buildings without setbacks, as sunlight could not penetrate to the streets. But for the Liberty Tower, it enjoyed fame in the early decades of the twentieth century as one of the tall, slender towers that made the New York skyline famous.

The 47 storey Singer Building, built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style and designed by Ernest Flagg, a rival of Cobb at the time, was built nearby. The Singer Building was demolished in 1968 having been deemed impractical. The tall slender tower of the Singer Building only offered 4,200 square feet of space per floor compared with the 37,000 square feet per floor of its replacement, 1 Liberty Plaza.

San Remo 145 - 146 Central Park West, New York City

Described as one of the most beautiful apartment buildings in New York City, the San Remo has attracted some of the most famous celebrities in the world as residents, including Tiger Woods, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, and Bono. This trend does not seem likely to end any time soon.

Emery Roth designed the building in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture, although there are numerous Art Deco motifs to be found throughout the building. Roth also took advantage of the new Multiple Dwelling Act that was enacted at the time of the San Remo’s design to create the first of the now iconic twin tower residential buildings that line Central Park West. The stipulations under this Act allowed for heights previously unheard of for residential buildings, provided that the towers did not exceed more than 20% of the building site and were setback by 70 feet in all directions. The benefit to this design is that the double towers allowed for more windows and natural light within the units, while minimizing the wasted space of long elevator corridors.

References

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation


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