Oculus - Fall 2016 - 45

97-year watch Behind Repurposed Portals Bertram Goodhue's splendid St. Bartholomew's Church was designed to incorporate the entry front of the congregation's former home ©John Morris Dixon ©Kristen Richards ©Kristen Richards BY J O H N MO RRIS DIXO N , FA IA R arely has an architect turned a limitation to such advantage. When Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue won the commission for a new St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, prominently sited on then-developing Park Avenue, he had to include the entry portals to the congregation's earlier church. For his new church, completed in 1919, this potential liability became the basis of a surprising design achievement. Dating from 1903, the three-portal front imposed on Goodhue was special in two respects. It was erected as a memorial to Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and it was designed by Stanford White, who had modeled it closely on the 12th-century façade of the abbey church at St. Gilles-du-Gard, which White had once called "the best piece of architecture in France." The bronze reliefs on the front's three sets of doors - and the sculpture surrounding them - had been entrusted to three prominent artists of the time, with Daniel Chester French responsible for the central portal. Photos of the old St. Bartholomew's, at Madison Avenue and 44th Street (Renwick & Sands, 1872-1876), with White's added front indicate a rather awkward relationship to a structure somewhat loosely based on Lombard Romanesque precedents. White may well have wanted to rebuild the entire church to suit the new front. By the time the congregation was ready to commission its Park Avenue church, White and his partner Charles McKim had both passed on. Goodhue had just launched his own practice after a 24-year partnership with Ralph Adams Cram that had produced Gothic Revival landmarks - one of the finest being St. Thomas Church nearby on Fifth Avenue. Once on his own, Goodhue explored more exotic revival styles, including the Span- ish Colonial pavilions at San Diego's 1915-1916 World's Fair, preserved today as cultural facilities in Balboa Park. Given the exceptional social, architectural, and sculptural pedigree of this reused front, many an architect might have produced a textbook essay in French Romanesque. But Goodhue was ready to do the unexpected, and here he designed a church in what is generally identified as Byzantine style, with a prominent central dome and no tower. But there is a certain sleekness of surface and simplification of detail here that prefigures the Art Deco. The complementary community house next to the church (now housing a popular restaurant) was completed by Goodhue's firm in 1928, four years after his mid-career death. This wing and its garden join the church proper in a notably effective composition occupying a whole Park Avenue blockfront between 50th and 51st Streets. A more extensive and unusual architectural ensemble was created in 1931, with the completion of the RCA Victor (later GE) office tower, by Cross & Cross, directly behind the church on Lexington Avenue. Displaying the same smooth salmon brick surfaces and stone trim as the church, this slim tower became, in effect, its campanile. Back at those original portals, it is all too obvious that some of the exotic marble columns in that reused front - exposed to the New York atmosphere for 113 years - have seriously deteriorated. For more than a decade, they've been braced with metal straps and wrapped in wire mesh. Passing beyond these preservation challenges, you're urged to enter and enjoy Goodhue's light and uncluttered interiors, enhanced by Hildreth Meière's elegant Proto-Deco mosaics. John Morris Dixon, FAIA, left the drafting board for journalism in 1960 and was editor of Progressive Architecture from 1972 to 1996. He continues to write for a number of publications, and he received AIANY's 2011 Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award for Excellence in Journalism. Authenticity + Innovation: Architecture Repurposed Fall 2016 Oculus 45

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2016

First Words Letter from the President
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
A Study in Contrasts
WeLive on Wall Street
A Preservation Paradox
Industrial Strength
Innovation Rooted in History
In Print
97-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover1
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover2
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 4
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 5
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 6
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 7
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 8
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 9
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 10
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 11
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 12
Oculus - Fall 2016 - First Words Letter from the President
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 14
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Letter from the Editor
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 16
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 17
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Center for Architecture
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 19
Oculus - Fall 2016 - One Block Over
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 21
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 22
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 23
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 24
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 27
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 29
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Study in Contrasts
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 31
Oculus - Fall 2016 - WeLive on Wall Street
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 33
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 34
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Preservation Paradox
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 36
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 37
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Industrial Strength
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 39
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 40
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 41
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Innovation Rooted in History
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 43
Oculus - Fall 2016 - In Print
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 97-Year Watch
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 46
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Last Words
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 49
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 50
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover4
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