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KATARXIS N°2

Public Buildings and Monuments

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Civic Buildings for Alessandria
 
Painting by Léon Krier

The Domestic and The Monumental 

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Place du Parlement Européen, Luxembourg
 
by Léon Krier
 
(Coloured Rendering by Patrice Neirinck)

"Only a dialogue of architecture and building, of classical and vernacular cultures, of monumental and domestic, of public and private, of sacred and secular, can endow human settlements with the dignity of a common culture.
 
 Only a great functional complexity can lead to a rich, clear, permanently satisfying and beautiful articulation of urban spaces and quarters.
 
 Simplicity and legibility must be the goal of the complexity of an urban plan and skyline; -- a city articulated into public and domestic spaces, -- monuments and urban fabric, -- architecture and buildings, -- squares and streets, and in that hierarchy." 
 
 
Léon Krier

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View of Pont Adolphe and Public Building, Luxembourg (1930)
Plateau Bourbon City Development (1906)
 
 by Joseph Stübben and Pierre André 

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The New European Quarters, Luxembourg (1978)
View towards the Place du Belvedere
 
by Léon Krier
 
(Coloured Rendering by Gilbert Busieau)

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The New European Quarters, Luxembourg (1978)
View towards the Renovated Pont Grand Duchesse Charlotte
 
by Léon Krier
 
 

The New Sackler Library

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New Sackler Library, London
 
by Robert Adam Architects
 
(Photo by Robert Adam)

"The new Sackler Library is fitted inside a small urban block on the west side of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The library is a complex of buildings centred around a relocated Ashmolean Library combined with History of Art, Historical and Humanities Libraries from around the university. Other buildings include the Griffiths Institute of Egyptology and the Near East, a new gallery of twentieth century art and extensions to the Institute of Archeology. The library is contained in a large circular building which is surrounded with lower wings all arranged round small courtyards. The entrance to the complex is through a small circular classical pavilion designed in the Doric order of the Temple of Apollo at Bassae first excavated by C.R.Cockerell, the architect of the Ashmolean Museum."

A New Classical Fieldhouse

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 Street View of Kelly Fieldhouse, Philadelphia
Saint  Joseph Preparatory School
 
by John Blatteau Architects

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Main Facade of Kelly Fieldhouse, Philadelphia
(Saint Joseph Preparatory School)
 
by John Blatteau Architects
 
(Photo by Tom Crane)

"The Kelly Fieldhouse (with approximately 60.000 square feet of usable space) is the last phase of this Master Plan for campus development. As a multi-use facility, the Fieldhouse contains four basketball courts in addition to a game court. There is also capability for batting  practice, tennis and volleyball. The facility contains an indoor running track at the mezzanine level with additional space or ping-pong and other after school activities.The roof is a full outdoor play surface accessible to both the Preparatory School and an adjacent Grade School."
 

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Rooftop of Kelly Fieldhouse, Philadelphia
(Saint Joseph Preparatory School)
 
by John Blatteau Architects
 
(Photo by Tom Crane)

 
West Palm Beach Library

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West Palm Beach Library, Competition Design
 
by Scott Merrill and George Pastor

Civic Architecture 

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West Palm Beach Lirary, Competition Design
 
by Scott Merrill and George Pastor

"It's not just urbanism and fabric architecture, but also public architecture that matters. In some ways it matters even more. Since public buildings are built by institutions, groups of citizens that generally have an interest in their continued existence for an indefinite period of time, their buildings require an architectural legibility shared by many, not just one or a few, over an undetermined number of years. At the same time they must by virtue of their hierarchical function be distinguishable from a generally harmonious cityscape. The language of traditional architecture has always had the capacity to represent the varying status of buildings. True creativity on the part of the architect results when he willingly embraces and inculcates tradition and finds ways of using this body of knowledge to -- characterize each building, thus rendering evident through material forms the qualities and properties inherent to its purpose--." 
 
Michael Mesko
 
(Comments on an article of Andrés Duany in 'The American Enterprise')

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West Palm Beach Library, Competition Design
 
by Scott Merrill and George Pastor

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West Palm Beach Library, Competition Design
 
by Scott Merrill and George Pastor

The Beauty and the Beast

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New Courthouse, Fresno, California
 
(Picture from Local Archives)

The Courthouse

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Former Courthouse, Fresno, California
 
(Picture from Local Archives)

The City Hall

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New City Hall, Fresno, California
 
(Photo from Local Archives)

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Former City Hall, Fresno, California
 
(Picture from Local Archives)

In the famous fairy tale, the beast is metamorphosized into a handsome prince by love and passion; beauty is resurrected in its most comprehensive nature within compassion and communion, and through the recognition of truth and the good. The beast does not symbolize the repulsive appearance of the fairy tale figure, but the blindness of himself and of others to see his beauty, beauty standing ultimately as a paradigm for humanity, and as an ideal of highest virtues....
 
However love and compassion cannot transform Fresno's miserable public buildings into beautiful monuments. The blindness which guided the construction of cities and monuments in the last decades has unfortunately been much stronger than the one which resisted to the uncovering of the 'beast's' beauty.
 
However a resurrection is possible by the acknowledgement of misguided urban planning and inappropriate civic architecture to be followed by a reconstruction of cities and their most significant public buildings.
 
The rediscovery of the traditional cities and their civic virtues, their cultural potentials, their social richness and their capacity to recreate an authentically convivial setting for human communities has popularized visions of a New American Urbanity with high standards of architecture and urbanism!  

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Town Centre and Public Buildings in Windsor, Florida
 
by Duany & Plater-Zyberk
 
Buildings by Scott Merrill and Georg Pastor
 
(Photo by Lucien Steil)