ruminations about architecture and design

Sunday, November 14, 2010

H.H. Richardson appreciation post

I believe there's a value to heroic figures. In architecture, H.H. Richardson, deserves that title with no qualifiers. For his time, and the places he practiced, he set a standard that could not be matched. It took deeper shifts and changes in the development of building types to elevate the works of others to the level he achieved with such apparent ease.
This is the Crane Library in Quincy, Massachusetts. It is the best piece of architecture in the city, and probably always will be, regardless of category. It is aided by a landscaping plan that a fellow 19th century genius, F.L. Olmsted, was responsible for. (So I've been told, or I recall reading somewhere).
One of Richardson's talents was an understanding of the power that can come from asymmetrical organization. I like to think that he drew his inspiration from the vernacular New England architecture that surrounded him. His cause was also aided by some local craftsmen who understood what he was looking for. Nowadays, a building like this would require exhaustive detailing and still turn out looking messed up.

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