Rome the Second Time is proud to present its 400th post. We are grateful to our readers for their appreciation of our content and tolerance of our eccentricities.
There is only one monument in Rome to McKim, Mead and White, the New York City-based firm that dominated American architecture in the half century after 1880--some 1,000 commissions, dozens of reknowned buildings. It is the building housing the American Academy in Rome, still there and still operating more than one hundred years after its completion in 1913/14. It is a gracious structure, superb in its balance and proportion, restrained in its ornamentation, representing the genteel tradition in architecture as fully as Henry James did for the novel. [As an update, we note an exhibition on the design and construction of the AAR building - a merely okay not a must-see exhibition - is at the Academy, open 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 29, 2014.]
|McKim's NYS pavilion, 1893, |
modeling the Villa Medici
|Stanford White's Washington Square arch|
To catch a glimpse of the most famous McKim, Mead and White building inspired by Rome, you'll have to go to New Jersey and dig around in its swamps and marshes. "Tossed into the Secaucus graveyard," wrote Ada Louise Huxtable, architectural critic of the New York Times, "are about 25 centuries of classical culture and the standards of style, elegance and grandeur that it gave to the dreams and constructions of Western man." She was referring to the Pennsylvania Station, arguably the most glorious and surely the most famous of the many structures designed by the firm, torn down between 1963 and 1965 (to make way for a skyscraper and a new Madison Square Garden), in what Lewis Mumford called "an irresponsible act of public vandalism."
|Pennsylvania Station waiting room|
|A reconstruction of the Baths of Caracalla|
|Pennsylvania Station concourse|
|Pennsylvania Station, colonnade|
|Design for a proposed reconstruction of the Tepidarium, Baths of Caracalla, 1889|