ABOUT THIS BOOK
Fascinated by change, architectural historians of the modernist generation generally filled their studies with accounts of new developments and innovations. In her book, Sally A. Kitt Chappell focuses instead on the subtler but more pervasive change that took place in the mainstream of American architecture in the period. Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, one of the leading American firms of the turn of the century, transformed traditional canons and made creative adaptations of standard forms to solve some of the largest architectural problems of their times—in railroad stations, civic monuments, banks, offices, and department stores. Chappell's study shows how this firm exemplified the changing urban hierarchy of the American city in the early twentieth century. Their work emerges here as both an index and a reflection of the changing urban values of the twentieth century.
Interpreting buildings as cultural artifacts as well as architectural monuments, Chappell illuminates broader aspects of American history, such as the role of public-private collaboration in city making, the image of women reflected in the specially created feminine world of the department store, the emergence of the idea of an urban group in the heyday of soaringly individual skyscrapers, and the new importance of electricity in the social order. It is Chappell's contention that what people cherish and preserve says more about them than what they discard in favor of the new. Working from this premise, she considers the values conserved by architects under the pressures of ever changing demands. Her work enlarges the scope of inquiry to include ordinary buildings as well as major monuments, thus offering a view of American architecture of the period at once more intimate and more substantial than any seen until now.
Richly illustrated with photographs and plans, this volume also includes handsome details of such first-rate works as the Thirtieth Street Station in Philadelphia, the Cleveland Terminal Group, and the Wrigley Building in Chicago.