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- The Art of the Exposition - 3/15 -
and courts, and one can appreciate the difficulties of the designer who met so well these conflicting requirements.
Of the detached palaces outside of the eight forming the rectangular block nucleus, the Palace of Machinery attracts by its enormous size. I am not interested in how many kegs of nails and iron bolts and washers went into its anatomy. They add nothing to the artistic enjoyment of this very massive building. One point, however, in connection with the liberal use of the raw material is of artistic significance, and that is that the internal structural aspects of this great palace, as well as of the others, are not without charm and interest. It is only in recent years, and particularly in America, that the engineer has dared to invade the realm of the artist by attempting to make the constructive, anatomical material, like uprights, bracings, trusses, and beams, assume artistic responsibilities. It has been for many years the custom to expect the engineer to do his share in obscurity with the idea that it ultimately will be covered up by the work of the architect. The extraordinary development of engineering in this country, to meet new and original problems, sometimes of colossal proportions, particularly in the field of concrete design, has resulted in some conditions heretofore entirely unknown. I feel with much satisfaction that the unobscured appearance of the wood construction in the Palace of Machinery is very pleasing, owing to its sound constructive elements, as well as to a very fine regard for pattern-making in the placing of the bolts and braces. Here we discover the engineer in the role of the artist, which he seems to enjoy, and which offers endless new opportunities, particularly in the field of concrete construction, as well as in wood. The great size of the Machinery Palace is much more enjoyable from within, on account of the constructive patterns left in the raw, than from without, where there is not enough animation in the many plain surfaces of the outer walls. I do not know that it is customary to put the engineer's name, together with that of the architect, on a building; the time s approaching very rapidly when we shall be in duty bound to do so.
Aside from the structural charm of the inside, the outer fašade of Machinery Hall is not entirely devoid of architectural interest. Its general forms are apparently those of an early Christian church, although its decorative motives are all indicative of the profane purposes for which it is used.
Festival Hall, by Farquhar, of Los Angeles, at the east end of the south gardens, does not look particularly festive, and it is not original enough to shine by itself, like its very happy mate at the south end, the Horticultural Palace. There is nothing like this Horticultural Palace anywhere on the grounds in its gorgeous richness of decorative adornment. It has no relation to any other building on the site. It is very happy, with its many joyous garlands, flower-baskets, and suggestions of horticultural forms - all very well done - so very much better done than so many of the cheap period imitations so common to our residence districts. It is so decidedly joyous in character that people looking for Festival Hall wander over to the Horticultural Palace, attracted by the very joyousness of its scheme.
Good rococo ornamentation is rare abroad and even rarer in this country, which is essentially opposed in its tendencies and in its civilization to those luxurious days of the French kings who created the conditions under which this very delightful style could flourish.
The Horticultural Palace is a great success as an interpretation of a style which rarely finds a sympathetic expression in this country. I do not feel at all that it ought, but in a case of this kind where a temporary purpose existed, it was happily chosen.
Of all isolated units, none causes greater admiration than the Fine Arts Palace. It presents the astounding spectacle of a building which violates the architectural conventions on more than one occasion, and in spite of it, or possibly for that very reason, it has a note of originality that is most conspicuous. Everybody admits that it is most beautiful, and very few seem to know just how this was accomplished. Many of the "small fry" of the architectural profession enjoy themselves in picking out its faults, which are really, as suggested above, the reason for its supreme beauty. Save for Mullgardt's court, it is the only building that seems to be based on the realization of a dream of a true artistic conception. With many other of the buildings one feels the process of their creation in the time-honored, pedantic way. They are paper-designed by the mechanical application of the "T" square and the triangle. They do not show the advantage of having been experienced as a vision.
With Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts, one has the feeling that this great temple is a realized dream; that it was imagined irrespective of time, cost, or demand. Like all of Maybeck's buildings, it is thoroughly original. Of course the setting contributes much to the picturesque effect, but aside from that, the colonnades and the octagonal dome in the center of the semicircular embracing form of the main building present many interesting features There is a very fine development of vistas, which are so provided as to present different parts of the building in many ever-changing aspects. On entering the outer colonnade one forgets the proximity of everyday things; one is immediately in an atmosphere of religious devotion, which finds its noblest expression in that delicate shrine of worship, by Ralph Stackpole, beneath the dome. This spiritual quality puts the visitor into the proper frame of mind for the enjoyment of the other offerings of art within the building. Mr. Maybeck has demonstrated once again that his talent is equal to any task in the field of architectural art. I wish we had more of his rare kind and more people to do justice to his genius.
Not far from the Palace of Fine Arts, on the shores of the bay, the monumental tower of the California building fits well into the scheme of things. Seen from a distance, from numerous points across the lagoon, it offers a great many effective compositions in connection with some very decorative groups of old acacia trees, the legacy of an old amusement park of the bygone days of San Francisco - the old Harbor View Gardens. In the shade of these old trees a fine old formal garden of exquisite charm, screened from the eyes of the intruder by an old clipped Monterey cypress hedge, really constitutes the unique note of this typically Mission building. The architect, Mr. Burditt, deserves great credit for an unusually respectful treatment of a very fine architectural asset. This very enchanting old flower garden, with its sundial and cozy nooks, has an intimate feeling throughout, and it furnishes the delightful suggestive note of old age, of historical interest, without which it would never have been convincing.
Aside from the outdoor features, the building, exclusive of the county annex, discloses a very fine talent in a very happy combination of classic tradition and modern tendencies. The building is altogether very successful, in a style which is so much made use of but which is really devoid of any distinct artistic merit. Most of the examples of the so-called "Mission style" in California are very uninteresting in their decorative motives, however big their ground plans may be in their liberal use of space.
The Oregon building is just across the way from the California building, and as an object of artistic analysis it is a most interesting single unit. Personally, I am not enthusiastic over it. It was most decidedly a very illogical idea to select a building to represent Oregon from a country which has nothing whatever in common with this northern state. One could hardly discover a more arid country, devoid of vegetation, particularly of trees, than Greece; and to compare it with the apparently inexhaustible wealth of virgin forests of Oregon makes the contrast almost grotesque. Besides, a building like the Parthenon, designed to grace and terminate the top of a hill, is surely not adapted for a flat piece of ground like the Exposition field. And in the choice of material used in its construction it shows a lack of appreciation for the fitness of things generally. The Parthenon was designed to be made in stone, as much for the construction as for the light color effect of the marble. Only the light color play of its exterior would do against a placid blue sky to relieve the otherwise exceedingly simple rigidity of its massive forms of construction. To make an imitation of this great building in uncouth, somber, almost black pine logs of dubious proportions is hardly an artistically inspired accomplishment.
There must always be a certain regard for the use of the right material in the right place. A wooden bridge will disclose its material even to the uninitiated at a very great distance, because everybody knows that certain things can be done only in wood. A stone, concrete, iron, or cable bridge, for example, will each always look its part, out of sheer material and structural necessity. A log house would have been far better and more successful than this pseudo Parthenon. It is in the same class with the statues of Liberty made from walnuts that are the great attractions in our autumnal agricultural shows. The State of Oregon, however, is well represented by a fine immense flagpole, which could hardly have been cut anywhere else than on the Pacific Coast.
Of other state buildings in this neighborhood, a number are impressive by their cost, like the New York building; others, again, by historical suggestions of great charm. There are several which reflect in a very interesting way the Colonial days of early American history; and buildings like those of New Jersey and Virginia, in spite of their unpretentiousness, are very successful. Nobody would take them for anything else but what they represent.
The Pennsylvania building shows a very fine combination of the classic and of the modern. It was originally designed to hold the Liberty Bell. In order to avoid the necessity of building a fireproof building, the open hail was adopted, with its inviting spaciousness, and two lower enclosing wings at the side. The arrangement of the Pennsylvania building is formal, owing to its symmetry, but not at all heavy. Its decorative detail is full of interest, and to discover Hornbostel of New York, the designer of the Oakland City Hall, as the author of this building, is a pleasant surprise.
Of most of the other state buildings, really nothing original could be claimed. They are, on the whole, dignified in their classic motives, and in most cases, in better taste than the many foreign buildings.
Among these, the buildings representing Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Bolivia, must claim particular attention. It must seem strange that the three northern countries named first should excel in originality of architecture, as well as in the allied arts.
The Swedish building, designed by Ferdinand Boberg, presents admirably his great talent. The name "Boberg" means nothing to most people out here, but anybody at all familiar with the development of modern architecture abroad will always think of Boberg as the greatest living master of Swedish architecture. His very talented wife, Anna Boberg, is equally well represented in another department, that of the Fine Arts.
The plan of the Swedish building is unsymmetrical, but well balanced, nevertheless. The typical northern wood tower, at one side, has a very fine outline, and like the roof, has a very fine decorative shingle covering, interesting in pattern as well as in color. I am very much tempted to speak of the treasures found inside of this building, but we must go on to Denmark's building.
This building, situated near the southern end of the Fine Arts Colonnade, has a far more advantageous location than the Swedish building. Situated on a narrow tongue of triangular shape, the architect
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