Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silent, Weird, Beautiful:

Philadelphia's City Hall and It's Architect

Presented By

Dr. Michael Lewis, Williams College

4:00 - 7:00 PM

Lecture at 5:30 PM

City Hall, Philadelphia, PA. Southeast Pavillion Under Construction, 1881.

Historic American Buildings Survey.

It is difficult to believe that two of Philadelphia’s most beloved buildings – City Hall and the Wagner Free Institute of Science – are the work of the same architect.  The one is a swaggering Baroque essay in civic pride, groaning with sculpture, while the other is a subdued and stately temple of science.  Yet together they suggest the enormous range of John McArthur, Jr., one of Philadelphia’s most influential and yet least known architects.  This lecture will look at the life and work of McArthur, his birth in Scotland, and his early training at the Carpenter’s Company, and show images of the houses, banks, hospitals, and hotels that sustained his career.  It will reveal the architect to be a far more complex and enigmatic figure than is commonly thought, and hint at why the poet Walt Whitman would call McArthur’s City Hall “silent, weird, beautiful.”

Michael J. Lewis is the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art at Williams College.  The recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (W. W. Norton) and The Gothic Revival (Thames & Hudson).  He writes widely on art and culture, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic Monthly






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