CONTEXT

September 7, 2010

Playing catch-up

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:31 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Google in Santa Monica

Missed a few things this weekend, including the incorporation of Google on September 4, 1998.  Google has been chugging along doing good stuff for twelve years, but apparently that was then. The company that promised to do no evil is kind of  hedging its bets on net neutrality. (See this.)

It seems a good time to remind ourselves that the web began with the (D)ARPANET – that is, it was created by the U.S. military and the National Science Foundation.  We fund the military and the NSF, therefore we funded the development of the internet.  Before they start charging us for stuff, maybe we should bill them for past services.

* * *

Monadnock Building by John Root. Photo by David K. Staub

Chicago architect Louis Sullivan was born September 3, 1856, and by the late 1890s had given us the skyscraper.  You may or may not consider that a good thing, but the ability to build up with steel, rather than out with load-bearing walls, changed every city in the world forever.

But it all started in Chicago.  A perfect statement of the transition – something you rarely find – is the Monadnock Building by John Root.  The southern half (receding in photo) of 1889-91 consists of load-bearing walls, while the northern half (foreground) of 1891-93 is steel column construction.  When the southern half was finished it sank six feet into the ground.

It was Sullivan who said  ‘form will ever follow function,’  but that did not mean a kind of minimalism.  He used the simple bands of masonry in his buildings for terra cotta or other decoration and because he was a master, it was never overdone.

Wainwright Building, St. Louis

The Panic of 1893 put paid to major architectural projects and as work declined, so did Sullivan.  He battled alcoholism in later life and died alone in a Chicago hotel room in 1924.

Many of Sullivan’s buildings were razed during the urban renewal mania of the ’50s (like the old New Orleans Union Station shown on a postcard), but many more – like the beautiful red brick Wainright Building (1891) – are on the National Register.  Sadly, Sullivan’s Gulf Coast summer house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was destroyed by Katrina.

Notable birthdays yesterday:  Bob Newhart, Raquel Welch and Loudon Wainwright III.

Old Union Station, NOLA

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2 Comments »

  1. let’s hear it for Sullivan and architecure in general good stuff my friend

    Comment by avery zia — September 7, 2010 @ 9:55 am | Reply

  2. i did not know most of that…i knew Google had offices in Santa Monica…lol

    Comment by Nina — September 7, 2010 @ 3:01 pm | Reply


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