If only a neighboring building resembled The Boy Wonder!
Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’
The entrance to the Ohio Judicial Center is every bit as lovely as the Ohio Supreme Court courtroom.
Many busy attorneys hurrying to an oral argument no doubt scurry through the entrance without looking around — or looking up. Those who fail to do so are missing something, because the ceiling above the entrance sparkles with colorful, carefully inlaid tile work (show above), and the doorways feature beautiful, finely detailed metal gate-like doors (shown below). How much time did it take for the master craftsmen who were involved to place the tiles or do the metalwork that produced such striking pieces?
When people talk about making a grand entrance, this must be what they are talking about.
Posted in Art, Humor, Ohio, Photography, tagged Architecture, Art, Humor, law, Modern Architecture, Ohio, Ohio Departments Building, Ohio Supreme Court, Photography, Rhodes Tower on February 6, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Today I went over to the Ohio Supreme Court to listen to an oral argument. While there, I had the chance to enjoy the Supreme Court courtroom and many other splendid features of the Ohio Judicial Center, which was called the Ohio Departments Building when it first opened in 1933.
The building is a graceful structure that is chock full of beautiful features and distinctive touches, and the Supreme Court courtroom is one of the highlights. It is a magnificent venue for an oral argument before Ohio’s highest court, with walls and ceilings covered with historical murals and classical scenes, rich carpeting and wall hangings, and fine furnishings. When I was there this morning a high school class was there to watch the argument, and while I thought the students might have been bored by the subject matter — which involved the standards for certifying a case as a class action under Ohio law — they could easily occupy their time gaping at the room. It definitely conveys the majesty of the law.
There’s a marked contrast between the current courtroom and its immediate predecessor, which was located a few blocks away in the Rhodes Tower. The Rhodes Tower is a prime example of soulless modern architecture, and the Supreme Court courtroom was a cold, drab, unadorned room that was filled with stone and sharp angles. The old courtroom always made me feel as if the Politburo was ready to walk out, give a perfunctory wave to the proletariat, and then pronounce judgment on the latest five-year plan. The “new” courtroom — which of course is older than the “old” courtroom — is a vast improvement.
On my visit today I took some photos of the refurbished building and its trappings. Above is a picture of the Supreme Court bench and counsel tables, and below is some of the terrific artwork found on the ceiling of the courtroom. I’ll post some more pictures of the building over the next few days.
I’m not a huge fan of modern architecture, but occasionally you see a futuristic design that makes you stop in your tracks. The Chevron complex in Houston is like that. An expanse of concrete, steel, chrome, and glass with a cool, above ground circular walkway connecting the different buildings, it looks like it came straight from the drawing board of the creators of The Jetsons cartoon.
Walking by, you expect to see a slobbering Astro come bounding past you, and you can’t help but listen carefully for George’s desperate cry: “Help, Jane. Stop this crazy thing! Help, Jaaaaaaaaaaaane!”
Posted in America, Art, Ohio, Photography, tagged America, Architecture, Art, Buildings, Cities, Classical Sculpture, Cleveland, Greek Art, Ohio, Photograph, Roman Art on September 25, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
I like the little flourishes you see in older buildings in America’s older cities. Even standard office buildings were not soulless cubes; the owners were proud of their buildings and wanted to make them seem grand and special — as opposed to throwing them up for the cheapest price possible.
I particularly enjoy the classical Greek and Roman architectural and sculptural references you see in some of the older buildings: the columns, the porticos, the arches, and occasionally the helmeted, winged head over the doorway. This silent sentinel is found over the doorway to the Leader Building in Cleveland.
Americans can and do disagree about what happens inside the Capitol, but we can all agree it is a beautiful building. The dome is a particularly inspiring architectural feature — enormous yet somehow delicate, perched atop the rest of the structure, its cavernous insides swallowing up the voices inside. It’s like an architectural metaphor for a sprawling country that moves forward despite the tiny voices of political discord.
I like the back lit view of the Capitol because it accentuates the majesty of the dome, with the day’s dying sunlight streaming through and the features set in sharp relief.
Posted in America, Art, tagged America, Architecture, Art, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eisenhower Memorial, Frank Gehry, Martin Luther King Memorial, National Mall, Washington D.C. on January 17, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
You can’t build a new memorial in Washington, D.C. without there being some controversy about the concept, the design, and the location. The Martin Luther King Memorial, which opened recently, has experienced its share of criticism — as has virtually every other addition to the National Mall area in the past 50 years. Now the Memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower is being dogged by controversy.
Eisenhower clearly was one of the greatest Americans of the last century. He led the Allied Expeditionary Force that invaded Europe and defeated Nazi Germany. In that role, Eisenhower showed extraordinary political instincts and the ability to meld, and placate, disparate nationalities and personalities. He was elected the 34th President, served for two terms, and left office a popular figure. During the Eisenhower years America was prosperous and at peace, focusing on huge internal improvements like the interstate highway system and social and cultural developments like rock ‘n’ roll and television. The Cold War with the Soviet Union was underway in earnest, and Eisenhower deftly managed to keep intermittent crises from turning the Cold War into a hot one. His presidency also saw the federal government taking an increasing civil rights role that culminated in Eisenhower’s decision to send federal troops to ensure the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
How do you memorialize such a figure? The Eisenhower Memorial designed by architect Frank Gehry contemplates an area in which three large metal tapestries create an interior space. The tapestries will feature images of Kansas, where Eisenhower was born. Within the tapestry walls will be green space, passages from three Eisenhower speeches, and three depictions of Eisenhower — as a barefoot boy, as a general, and as president.
Eisenhower’s descendants don’t like the design. They wonder if the metal will rust, they don’t like the focus on his boyhood rather than his accomplishments, and they want the work on the memorial to be postponed to allow for reassessment of the design. Other critics call the design “ghastly” and say the memorial fails to really communicate why Eisenhower was such a significant figure — which, they submit, is one of the main reasons for a memorial in the first place.
The opposition to the design caused the National Civic Art Society to hold a contest seeking a more classical design. The winning entry proposes a memorial arch with depictions of Eisenhower as general and as president along with two fountains.
The National Mall area is like America’s town square. We all feel a special pride about it, and we all have an opinion about how it should look. Some people love the classical designs and want only more of the same. Others urge that we experiment with other styles and approaches. I’m not sure Americans care a great deal about the design; I think they care more about the concept and the execution. The Vietnam War Memorial was controversial when it was proposed — depicted as a sad, black gash in the ground — but it is now a must-see for most Americans who visit Washington, D.C. That memorial, with its somber, sinking feeling and the grim weight of those thousands of individual names, is as impressive and awesome in its own, unique way as the nearby Lincoln Memorial is in its classical fashion.
So, I’m not opposed to the concept of metal tapestries, per se, so long as they are created to withstand rust and the elements. Instead, I question what is depicted on the tapestries. Eisenhower certainly was shaped, in some part, by his Kansas childhood, but there was much, much more to his life. Bucolic scenes of rolling countryside don’t communicate anything about the man, his beliefs, and his achievements — and indeed seem to distract from them.
I was in Cleveland last night and took some associates from the firm out to dinner. (Thanks very much for the company, ladies!) They decided we should go to a restaurant across the street from the West Side Market at the corner of West 25th St. and Lorain Avenue in the Ohio City area of Cleveland.
The West Side Market, which opened in 1912, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Cleveland. Made of yellow brick, with a sturdy yet gracefully curved facade and a stunning clock tower that features cross-hatched brickwork, the West Side Market is an architectural gem. It still serves as a functioning market, although it was closed for the day by the time we arrived in the area. It is one of those lovely buildings that makes older neighborhoods great.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood around the West Side Market seems to be struggling somewhat. As we drove up, we saw a policeman handcuffing a suspect next to a patrol car in the entranceway of an apartment building, and on the opposite side of the street a titanically drunk man was weaving uncertainly back and forth as he made his way down the sidewalk. These are the kinds of things that make you question whether the neighborhood is very safe. Although our restaurant served good food and offered an excellent selection of beers, it was largely deserted during the early evening hours, and I found myself wondering if the security issues were affecting its patronage.
According to my dinner companions, the neighborhood and other supporters are working hard to preserve the West Side Market, and obviously that kind of campaign is important. Our brief visit to the area, however, also indicated that physical structures are only part of the equation. Urban neighborhoods will thrive only if residents feel safe in walking the streets and visitors feel secure as they drop by to shop, eat, or enjoy a fine Belgian ale. It looks like the West Side Market area still has some work to do in that regard.