Friday, May 3, 2013

From NPR — How Does the Ceiling
Of the NYC Grand Central Oyster Bar
Explain Antoni Gaudi?

How does the tile ceiling of the oyster bar in New York City's Grand Central Station explain Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudi? This NPR report details the work of the Guastavino family creating beautiful and durable tile arches and domes in public buildings in the US in the late 19th and early 20th century. Robert Hughes' epic Barcelona sets out to put Barcelona, Catalunya and the modernisme architects Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, into perspective. He describes modernisme as "eclectic, architecture that looked to the past for inspiration: mainly Gothic and Arabic too.But its attitude was one of transformation, not passive copying and "correct" quotation. At its best it was highly adventurous, open to new structural techniques—and capable of using old ones with a daring and precision that rivalled or even surpassed their original uses. To see the kind of craft base it could draw on one may reflect on a family of tilers and bricklayers, the Guastavinos." The Guastavinos distilled centuries of brick and tile know-how into thier work, they knew all the empirical secrets of the wide-span, flat Catalan medeival arch." For me it was a revelation that Gaudi and Barcelona's distinctive architecture isn't about art nouveau but about the proud and centuries old traditions, arts, crafts and building technologies of Catalunya, brought into the modern world with such originality. 


Frank Murphy said...
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Frank Murphy said...

The Guastavino Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is dedicated to documenting and preserving the tile vaulted works of the Guastavino Company. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Rafael Guastavino Moreno and his son Rafael Guastavino Exposito were responsible for designing tile vaults in nearly a thousand buildings around the world, of which more than 600 survive to the present day. The remaining buildings are found in more than 30 U.S. states, and include major landmarks such as the Ellis Island Registry Hall, the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, and the Boston Public Library.