Architectural League of New York and American Federation of Arts

Exhibition Notes

This exhibit on the design possibilities of pre-cast concrete blocks was organized by the Architectural League of New York. It circulated across the US using funding provided by the American Federation of Arts, also of New York, NY. When it was shown at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) during 11-12/1962, the ETSU student newspaper said of the exhibit: “A photographic exhibition titled PRE-CAST CONCRETE: NEW SHAPES IN DESIGN, presenting a review of recent buildings incorporating precast concrete as a decorative material will open at the Student Center, November 19 through December 8. Twenty-five panels show detailed and broad views of institutional, public and commercial work executed across the United States. One of a series originated by the Architectural League of New York, the exhibition is traveling to art institutions and universities throughout the country under the auspices of the American Federation of Arts. The recent popularity of pre-cast panels probably stems from the U.S. Embassy building by Edward Durrell Stone, built in New Delhi, India, 1958, which received wide-spread acclaim as a return to elegance and sophistication in architecture. The pierced masonry screen of that building spurred the development of ribs, sculptured panels and geometrically patterned blocks, which can be repeated in unlimited quantities and are easy to transport and erect. But more significantly, it encouraged among architects an interest in ornament which had not been evident for half a century. The repetitive geometrically patterned block is represented in the exhibition by the new Denver Hilton Hotel of I.M. Pei, with an interesting recall of the its first use in a view of Frank Lloyd Wright;s Millard House, 1938, Pasadena, California. The use of large sculptured panels can be seen in photographs of the Wachovia Bank & Trust Company building, Charlotte, North Carolina, Harris [sic] & Abramovitz architects; the Lork [sic] & Taylor store, Chevy Chase, Maryland, Fordyce & Hamby Associates, to mention a few. Concrete ribs are well represented by Philip Johnson’s Brown University Computer Laboratory and Minoru Yamasaki’s College of Education Building at Wayne State University. Other architectural firms whose work is included in the show are Welton Beckett [sic] & Associates, Kelly & Gruzen, Kahn & Jacobs, Earl P. Carlin, Hertzka & Knowles, Alber [sic] Kahn & Associates, Mitchell & Giurgola, Eli Rabineau, William P. Wenzler, and Harmon, Pray & Detrich.” (See “‘New Shapes in Design’ To Be Displayed at Student Center,” East Tennessee State University Collegian, 11/16/1962, p. 8.)

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