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Library mounts "Architecture Observed" exhibition
Press Release April 11, 2001

The exhibition Architecture Observed will be on view in the galleries of The Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street, from April 20 through June 30, 2001. William J. Dane, supervising librarian of special collections, curated the exhibition.

The project illustrates some of the world’s more memorable buildings crossing over time periods and national borders, while calling attention to some of the library’s 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 the visual brilliance of such structures as Garnier’s Paris Opera House, the villas of Palladio and the ruins by Piranesi.

The importance of building projects of contemporary times is exemplified in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the restoration of New York City’s Tweed Courthouse. 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 growth of everybody’s “built environment.”

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. 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.

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. Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum by Wright is saluted along with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the new Guggenheim to be built out over New York’s East River in lower Manhattan. Both of these projects are by Frank Gehry, the contemporary Canadian-born architect whose use of new materials, such as titanium, puts the “new” in contemporary designs.

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, agencies and embassies. Billions of dollars are currently being spent on new construction and these developments are covered in visual and book formats. Other great works 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 Virginia home of George Washington.

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. 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.

Pop-ups featuring buildings and books for children covering architectural appreciation were especially included to appeal to young visitors.

The exhibition is free and open to the public during library hours: 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. For additional details or general questions, please call the curator at (973) 733-7745. Patrons may also visit the library’s home page at


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