Surrounded by glass, attracting stares; some stony. Why was she given no eyes of her own?
Brick House, Bronze
”Simone Leigh presents Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City. This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States with the human body. The title comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.”
Designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, inspired by the Empire State Building in New York upon which Marguerite perceived a cross, had it not been for the Second World War, the Chapel would have been built in Budapest, Hungary overlooking the Danube, co-designed with Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright.
As fate (or was it the hand of god) would have it, the Chapel of the Holy Cross came to be in Sedona, where Staude, together with Richard Hein and August K. Strotz of the Anshen & Allen architecture company, ”decided upon a twin-pinnacled spur 80m-high jutting out of a 300m rock wall which Staude described as being as solid as the rock of Peter”. [source]
It was completed in 1956 and received an Award of Honor by the American Institute of Architects, in 1957.
On the other hand, the huge mansion simply known as ”The House”, obstructing the view across from the Chapel, was commissioned by Dr. Ioan Cosmescu, an inventor and biomedical engineer who obviously did very well financially, was completed in 2008 and received the ”Eyesore Award” by the local community, every year since.
Introduced by President John F. Kennedy and written by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a lifelong advocate for urban design excellence, the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture promoted federal government architecture that would “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American National Government” and “embody the finest contemporary American architectural thought.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development Building, the first to be built according to the principles, also symbolized the values of a newly created cabinet-level department committed to addressing the urban decline caused by the wave of post-World War II suburbanization.
The HUD headquarters was designed by world-renowned French architect Marcel Breuer and his associate Herbert Beckhard for a site in the Southwest urban renewal area that would show the federal government’s commitment to urban reinvestment. Breuer used concrete in bold and innovative ways to create an Expressionist building with a sweeping, curvilinear X-shaped form. This represents the first use of precast and cast-in-place concrete as the structural and finish material for a federal building, and it was also the first fully modular federal building.
The building was renamed in 1999 to honor Washington native Robert C. Weaver, who served as Lyndon Johnson’s HUD Secretary from 1966-68 and was the first African American member of a Presidential cabinet. The building was constructed from 1965 to 1968 and includes a 1990 plaza redesign by landscape architect Martha Schwartz. [source]
It is -unsurprisingly- listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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