The Project Gutenberg eBook, Architecture and Democracy, by Claude Fayette Bragdon
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Title: Architecture and Democracy
Author: Claude Fayette Bragdon
Release Date: June 15, 2004 [eBook #12625]
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ARCHITECTURE AND DEMOCRACY***
E-text prepared by Leah Moser and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
ARCHITECTURE AND DEMOCRACY
CLAUDE BRAGDON F.A.I.A.
[Illustration: PLATE I. THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING, NEW YORK]
This book can lay no claim to unity of theme, since its subjects range from skyscrapers to symbols and soul states; but the author claims for it nevertheless a unity of point of view, and one (correct or not) so comprehensive as to include in one synthesis every subject dealt with. For according to that point of view, a skyscraper is only a symbol—and of what? A condition of consciousness, that is, a state of the soul. Democracy even, we are beginning to discover, is a condition of consciousness too.
Our only hope of understanding the welter of life in which we are immersed, as in a swift and muddy river, is in ascending as near to its pure source as we can. That source is in consciousness and consciousness is in ourselves. This is the point of view from which each problem dealt with has been attacked; but lest the author be at once set down as an impracticable dreamer, dwelling aloof in an ivory tower, the reader should know that his book has been written in the scant intervals afforded by the practice of the profession of architecture, so broadened as to include the study of abstract form, the creation of ornament, experiments with color and light, and such occasional educational activities as from time to time he has been called upon to perform at one or another architectural school.
The three essays included under the general heading of "Democracy and Architecture" were prepared at the request of the editor of The Architectural Record, and were published in that journal. The two following, on "Ornament from Mathematics," represent a recasting and a rewriting of articles which have appeared in The Architectural Review, The Architectural Forum, and The American Architect. "Harnessing the Rainbow" is an address delivered before the Ad. Club of Cleveland, and the Rochester Rotary Club, and afterwards made into an essay and published in The American Architect under a different title. The appreciation of Louis Sullivan as a writer appears here for the first time, the author having previously paid his respects to Mr. Sullivan's strictly architectural genius in an essay in House and Garden. "Color and Ceramics" was delivered on the occasion of the dedication of the Ceramic Building of the University of Illinois, and afterwards published in The Architectural Forum. "Symbols and Sacraments" was printed in the English Quarterly Orpheus. "Self Education" was delivered before the Boston Architectural Club, and afterwards published in a number of architectural journals.
Acknowledgment is hereby tendered by the author to the editors of these various magazines for their consent to republication, together with thanks, however belated, for their unfailing hospitality to the children of his brain.
August 1, 1918.
ARCHITECTURE AND DEMOCRACY
I. Before the War
II. During the War
III. After the War
ORNAMENT FROM MATHEMATICS
I. The World Order
II. The Fourth Dimension
HARNESSING THE RAINBOW
LOUIS SULLIVAN, PROPHET OF DEMOCRACY
COLOR AND CERAMICS
SYMBOLS AND SACRAMENTS
LIST OF FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
Plate I. The Woolworth Building, New York
Plate II. The New York Public Library
Plate III. The Prudential Building, Buffalo, N.Y.
Plate IV. The Erie County Savings Bank, Buffalo, N.Y.
Plate V. The New York Central Terminal
Plate VI. Plan of the Red Cross Community Club House,
Camp Sherman, Ohio
Plate VII. Interior View of the Camp Sherman Community House
Plate VIII. Imaginative Sketch by Henry P. Kirby
Plate IX. Architectural Sketch by Otto Rieth
Plate X. 200 West 57th Street, New York
Plate XI. Imaginary Composition: The Portal
Plate XII. Imaginary Composition: The Balcony
Plate XIII. Imaginary Composition: The Audience Chamber
Plate XIV. Song and Light: An Approach toward "Color Music"
Plate XV. Symbol of Resurrection
Every form of government, every social institution, every undertaking, however great, however small, every symbol of enlightenment or degradation, each and all have sprung and are still springing from the life of the people, and have ever formed and are now as surely forming images of their thought. Slowly by centuries, generations, years, days, hours, the thought of the people has changed; so with precision have their acts responsively changed; thus thoughts and acts have flowed and are flowing ever onward, unceasingly onward, involved within the impelling power of Life. Throughout this stream of human life, and thought, and activity, men have ever felt the need to build; and from the need arose the power to build. So, as they thought, they built; for, strange as it may seem, they could build in no other way. As they built, they made, used, and left behind them records of their thinking. Then, as through the years new men came with changed thoughts, so arose new buildings in consonance with the change of thought—the building always the expression of the thinking. Whatever the character of the thinking, just so was the character of the building.
What is Architecture? A Study in the American People of Today, by
Architecture and Democracy
BEFORE THE WAR
The world war represents not the triumph, but the birth of democracy. The true ideal of democracy—the rule of a people by the demos, or group soul—is a thing unrealized. How then is it possible to consider or discuss an architecture of democracy—the shadow of a shade? It is not possible to do so with any degree of finality, but by an intention of consciousness upon this juxtaposition of ideas—architecture and democracy—signs of the times may yield new meanings, relations may