Category: architectural history

The Exquisite Thomas T. Gaff House

Built for a Cincinnati industrialist in 1904 and designed by the prominent NYC society architect Bruce Price and the equally prominent Washington,DC society architect Jules Henri de Sibour, this house is strikingly beautiful with its steep Mansard roof, strong visual contrast between the deep red brick walls and white stone quoins, and compact yet soaring massing.

As architecturally impressive as the exterior is, it is outdone by the interior with its rich wood paneling and the sense of movement from space to space, and grand ballroom.

The building is now the Embassy of Columbia’s ambassador’s residence.

De Sibour designed many grand residences in the Embassy Row neighborhood, including 1785 Mass. Ave.,the former headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (photograph by (c) Bill Lebovich,2016)Thomas T. Gaff House (1).jpg

Georgetown’s late 18th, early 19th century domestic architecture

One of the most popular rows for tourists is also one of the best rows.  The power of simple motifs repeated down the row creates a sense of harmony, rhythm, and horizontal and vertical movement.  No American architectural style achieved so much with such restraint.  In most periods, such as classical revival, Richardsonian Romanesque — all great styles, and the post modernismGeorgetownIMG_5488_DxOVP (1).jpg, architects depend on bold statements to say their design is important architecture.

1785 Massachusetts Ave.,NW

Designed by Jules Henri deSibour, one of Washington,DC’s finest architects of the early 20th century, 1785 was home to Andrew Mellon when he was Secretary of Treasury. It is believed he occupied the entire top floor.  The British Art Dealer Lord Duveen rented the floor below and displayed his art collection.  He invited Mellon to view it and the approach worked.  Mellon bought the collection, which became the basis of National Gallery of Art.

The building was the headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  As the Trust was selling the building, the Trust hired me to photograph the building for the HABS Collection at the Library of Congress.  I took more than 200  4 x5 black and white archival processed negatives and an archival print of each negative.

The American Enterprise Institute bought the building, joining Brookings, John Hopkins,and Carnegie Institute as some of the think tanks along this section of Massachusetts Ave., between 17th and 18th Streets.

The first photo (black and white) is from April 2014.  The second photo is from November 2016.DC-265 7.jpg1785 Mass AEI.jpg

Hearst Tower

Designed by Norman Foster, this 2006 skyscraper is dramatically different than any building built at the time.  And I think it broke the mold for how skyscrapers should look.  No more or at least less regular grids of verticals and horizontals in NYC high rise.  Now, more glass, with twists as the building rises or changes in massing.

The Hearst Tower sits on a six story base (in the shadows)  built in 1928.  It has been described as Art Deco,but it is at least as much fortress like.IMG_5064.jpg

The beauty of early 19th century architecture

Detail of the cornice of gatehouse designed by Charles BulIMG_4934.jpgfinch, third Architect of the Capitol, in approximately 1827, for the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. This gatehouse and another one by Bulfinch were moved to Constitution Ave, closer to the White House, in the late 19th century.

Bulfinch, considered one of the first professional architects in this country, took drawing courses as a Harvard undergraduate and then traveled through Europe observing architecture.

Architectural Photography/Architectural History Tour of Embassy Row

Saturday, November 12,2016, 10am-12:30pm

To make compelling architectural photographs, one has to understand architectural history.

This tour places the buildings and spaces in context and demonstrates the photographic techniques used to capture photographs that convey the significance of the buildings.

Participants should bring their own cameras (digital or film, any format).

$20/per person.

For further information contact Bill Lebovich:architecturalphoto@mac.comIMG_3189.jpg (c)Bill Lebovich,2016