An inspired mixture
I embarked on Susan Tunick’s 2nd terracotta tour today. Interesting residential and commercial mix and some very early terracotta, combined with some jazzy 20s and Deco design, made for a varied display of uses of the material.
Until about midday, when it started raining, with a coffee pause and a new umbrella I persevered. But then it poured and with concerns for my camera (and drowning if I spent too much time looking upwards with my mouth open) I sadly retired the tour for the day. Here’s a taster of what I explored:
I enjoyed the lavish extravagence of The Emmet building (95 Madison Ave 1912):
With creatures and figures and white decorative terracotta coating the surfaces. Interestingly in a programme of conservation in 1993 Boston Valley Terra Cotta replaced 150 terracotta pieces (Tunick), so i look forward to talking to them about the project when we meet in a couple of weeks. You can see the shields on 3rd floor level have been replaced by their slighly different colouration and texture. I have a list of projects Boston Valley Terra Cotta have been involved with (conservation and new build) in the city to visit before I go and visit the facility.
And the unusual functionailty and boldness in design of the Manhatten Trade School for Girls (127E 22nd St 1915):
I am to continue my tour from Gramercy, and on a less wet day will revisit those above with some time and my sketchbook.
Other highlights include:
J. Hampton Robb Residence (23 Park Ave 1889-91):
Intesreting texture on this red brick and terracotta apartment (the lower floors are brownstone). The condition of the sheilds can been seen with the aid of a zoom lens:
Easily missed as much of the interesting white terracotta detailing is so high! This is the best my camera did, and with the poor light and drizzle, this building made me wish I could fly amongst the set backs. The giant heads that line the roofline are curious, I would love to see one of those close up:
Stunning polychrome on 2 Park Ave (E32nd 1927).
The architect Ely Jacques Kahn had full scale models of painted plaster hung on the building before it was finished so he could examine the colours at height and in different lights. (Tunick) Due to its height and location this building can be seen from many areas, I’ll look out for it especially as the effect of the colours was so studied!
This is a detailing from Greeb Central Building (425 Park Ave South) 1927). The terracotta has been glazed to look like stone, using a spray gun, although the rest of the building is brick (Tunick) you can see this effect clearly in this close up.
More fabulous 20s deco designs on 261 Fifth Ave (E29th Street 1928-29):
I found a dry haven in the Public Library, which is an impressive building that really makes you want to stretch your brain like so many generations before in this space. I always find it entertaining that so many people come to buidlings like this not to read but take pictures of the people studying in the impressive reading rooms. Having said that, I wanted to too, as there was something incongruous about so may while apple macs and bowed heads in such a gloriously magnificent room laden with heavy oak desks. And without my ID, I could not call any books, so another place to return to.