Architecture and Democracy

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Cosimo, Inc., Nov 1, 2005 - Architecture - 232 pages
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Ornament in its primitive manifestations is geometrical rather than naturalistic. This is in a manner strange, that the abstract and metaphysical thing should precede the concrete and sensuous. -from "The World Order" One of the most respected philosophers of architecture in the early 20th century, Bragdon here makes a plea to his fellow architects and the public at large to choose organic designs for public structures, and to reject the abstract modern architecture coming into vogue in the post World War I period. Examining building design on either side of the great, modernizing divide of the war, he argues for a softer, more human aesthetic, and offers numerous "imaginary compositions," the products of his own fanciful yet logical creativity, to illustrate his points. First published in 1918, this highly readable volume has much to contribute to today's discourse on how to organize the public realm. Other works by Bragdon available from Cosimo Classics: More Lives Than One, The Beautiful Necessity, Episodes from An Unwritten History, and A Primer of Higher Space (The Fourth Dimension). American architect, stage designer, and writer CLAUDE FAYETTE BRAGDON (1866-1946) helped found the Rochester Architectural Club, in the city where he made his greatest mark as a building designer with structures including Rochester Central Station, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the First Universalist Church; he also designed Peterborough Bridge in Ontario. In later life, Bragdon worked on Broadway as scenic designer for 1930s productions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Hamlet, among others.

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Page 5 - The portals of the basements, usually arched as if crushed beneath the weight of the mountain which they support, look like dens of a primitive race, continually receiving and pouring forth a stream of people. You lift your eyes and you feel that up there behind the perpendicular wall, with its innumerable windows, is a multitude coming and going,—crowding the offices that perforate these cliffs of brick and iron, dizzied with the speed of the elevators.
Page 5 - One might think that such a problem would interest no one but an engineer. Nothing of the kind ! The simple power of necessity is to a certain degree a principle of beauty; and these structures so plainly manifest this necessity that you feel a strange emotion in contemplating them.

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