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A conceptual drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright for an opera house in Baghdad, Iraq, 1957.
Architecture Observed

Curated by William J. Dane
Second Floor Gallery
April 20 through September 2001

An exhibition entitled "Architecture Observed" is on view in at The Newark Public Library through September 2001. The dual purposes of this project were to illustrate some of the world's more memorable buildings crossing over time periods and national borders while calling attention to some of The Library's superb materials relating to the history of "the mother of all the fine arts", as architecture is frequently termed in academic art circles. 

The books, prints and large posters in the total gathering include several hundred items edited to show their visual brilliance, such as Garnier's Paris Opera House, the nostalgic appeal of the work of architects from earlier eras, such as the villas of Palladio or imaginative prints of ruins by Piranesi, and the importance of building projects in the world of today as exemplified in the restoration of New York City's Tweed Courthouse or Newark's Performing Arts Center of contemporary times.
An interior sketch of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  Designed by Barton Myers, completed in 1996.

Palace of Fontainebleau, France.

The eternal appeal of the French royal palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, which are models of extravagance and glitter, is noted in color views of both amazing complexes. In 1808, Napoleon I ordered the readornment of royal rooms at Fontainebleau so that his imposing court could celebrate his military victories and house 12,000 people.

Notice is also made of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Florida, which is now reassessed for its trendy features on the occasion of the death in February of the architect, Morris Lapidus. His work, once scorned as "over the top kitsch" is now considered as pioneering efforts accepted and copied in spirit for resort buildings in the 21st century.

Of particular interest are groupings of architectural drawings in color by Frank Lloyd Wright. These superb facsimiles show Wright's great skill as a draftsman and his unique and highly original building concepts. These stunning, fascinating drawings include building projects, which were actually constructed, as well as many that exist only as drawings. These truly memorable records of America's leading 20th century architect are copyrighted by The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation which gives them the stamp of authenticity. 

Frank Lloyd Wright drawing for the prototype of an urban townhouse for The Richards Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 1915.
Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum by Wright is saluted along with the tremendously successful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the amazing new Guggenheim to be built out over New York's East River in lower Manhattan. Both of these projects are by the contemporary Canadian-born architect, Frank Gehry whose use of new materials, such as titanium, puts the "new" in contemporary designs.
Proposed Guggenheim Museum in New York's East River.  By Frank O. Gehry and Associates.

A winter view of Frank Lloyd Wright's celebrated "Fallingwater."

The Library's extensive display takes on a world-view and features the amazing building and city planning activity in Berlin, Germany which is once again a capitol city and thus, the center for myriad governmental departments and agencies plus the embassies of other nations. Billions of dollars are currently being spent on new construction and these developments are covered in visual and book formats. Great works from other times and far-away places include Art Nouveau details by Belgian architect, Victor Horta; the legendary Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, whose greatest work, the Sacrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, is an on-going project of absorbing international interest; and the Italian architect, Andrea Palladio, from Vincenza in the Veneto Region. His concept of central villas with connecting outbuildings influenced architects for centuries including America's Thomas Jefferson and the ultimate disposition of Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George Washington in Virginia.

Towers on the facade of the Cathedral Sacrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain.

As all the materials are from The Library's collections, notable books are featured throughout the gallery spaces. These include plates from Diderot's "Encyclopedia" published in France in the late 18th century. It is regarded as the most important publication of the century in which it appeared. The Library's immaculate copy was purchased from a Swiss monastery that fortunately owned two copies of the multi-volume set and the illustrations under "Architecture" were influential in their time and are notable even today. Of great value to preservationists and architectural historians are mid-19th century American books such as "Woodward's National Architect with 1,000 Original Designs, Plans and Details, (N.Y., 1869); "Cottage Residences" by A.J. Downing (New York, 1873); and Palliser's "New Cottage Homes and Details", (New York, 1887). These liberally illustrated books and others of proven vintage value are on display along with essential dictionaries and legendary reference books in the discipline such as Sir Banister Fletcher's "A History of Architecture" replete with clear, detailed plans and scale drawings and now in its much admired 19th edition which appeared in 1989.
A Victorian cottage, from "Cottage Residences" by A. J. Downing, 1873. 
Design for a $4,000 cottage from "Woodward's National Architect," 1869.

The exhibit is curated by William J. Dane, Supervising Librarian of Special Collections at The Newark Public Library, and has been carefully gathered and presented in response to a dramatic rise in interest in old buildings due in part to the jet age travel industry and to current building trends as regularly covered by the media and especially by "The New York Times" and local construction interests all across the U.S.A. plus architectural preservationists and students and faculty of architectural schools such as the highly respected School of Architecture at The New Jersey Institute of Technology in the heart of Newark's expanding academic community. Pop-ups featuring buildings and books for children covering architectural appreciation were especially included to appeal to young visitors. Rockefeller Center, the development of skyscrapers and the remarkable development of interest in the preservation of old buildings are noted in some depth in this lively, colorful and eclectic coverage of the endlessly fascinating growth of everybody's built environment.
The Hudson Terminal Building, Manhattan, by Clinton & Russell, completed in 1896.
Office, retail, and residential buildings for Daimler-Benz, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Germany.  Designed by The Rogers Partnership, London.

The exhibition is open to the public completely free of charge during regular Newark Public Library hours which are Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; closed on Sundays. For additional details or general questions, please call the curator at (973) 733-7745. The Central Library Building is located at 5 Washington Street just off Broad Street on the west side of Washington Park in downtown Newark.

 

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