"FIRST EXERCISE" ASSIGNMENT,
AND PREPARATION FOR THE FIRST SECTION MEETINGS OF THIS COURSE: LOOKING
CLOSELY AT THE FRICK FINE ARTS BUILDING
There are no section meetings for the beginning week of this course.
Instead, you will work on your own on an exercise in preparation for your
first sections, next week (September 4 or 5). Since architecture is interpreted
through views and plans, this exercise will familiarize you with the plans
of the Frick Fine Arts Building, which follow in both the Sourcebook and
the website. Walk through the building until you recognize all features
of the structure on the plans, and vice-versa. All buildings are composed
of several factors, whose analysis yields their place and context in the
history of architecture. Buildings are usually "documented" in
some way also, with inscriptions, cornerstones, or plaques that help in
their dating. The Frick building has about a dozen such inscriptions (not
On the plans themselves answer briefly the following questions:
1) Describe and give the dimensions of room A.
2) What is the wall thickness at point B?
3) What function is served at point C?
4) What goes on at point D?
5) Show the location of at least seven inscriptions, with a one-line
summary next to each. Temporary inscriptions do not count: these must be
carved into the walls, painted, or affixed in the most permanent manner.
List duplicates once only.
6) Give compass orientation to the plans: North, east, south, and west.
7) On separate pages, stapled to the plans, draw two circulation paths--that
is, lines showing where people go inside the building. Use one color to
indicate how the architect and patron probably expected the building to
be used (you can determine that by the "natural flow" of room
to room), and a second color to show how the building is actually used.
Label these two paths accordingly. (You might also think about what kind
of users the building gets.)
Print, rip out, or photocopy the plans, and hand them and the extra
sheet(s) in at your first section meeting. That concludes the exercise.
But as you go through the building, read the preceding pages again. Use
the opportunity to work on distinguishing description from analysis, and
think about how architectural historians use historical materials. In the
two exhibition cases in the front lobby are plans and views of the existing
building, of the site before the Frick Fine Arts Building was constructed,
and some proposed plans for it that were not built. These will be discussed
at your first section meeting also. They give us a better understanding
of some of the decisions--occasionally strange ones--that were incorporated
in the final form of the building.
On the website you will find the following illustrations:
1) Two views of Schenley Plaza before 1913 and today. The old
view shows Carnegie Library and Carnegie Mellon University (background
left) and Phipps Conservatory (background right), looking approximately
as you see them here. But the earlier view also shows the Forbes Field
baseball stadium on the right. This was destroyed a generation ago, and
replaced by Forbes Quadrangle and Mervis Hall. St. Pierre's ravine, the
depression in the center, has become a parking lot. The bridge in the background
of the old view is still standing exactly as it was, except that it is
buried, and the Mary Schenley fountain stands on it. The Frick Fine
Arts Building was constructed about where a formal garden with concentric
walkways once stood.
2) Charles Z. Klauder's drawing of a proposed Frick Fine Arts Building
in Baroque style, ca. 1932. This would have stood on the site of Heinz
Chapel; compare it with its probable model, Francesco Borromini's S. Ivo
della Sapienza, Rome, 1643: fig. 551 in the Trachtenberg-Hyman text.
3)B. Kenneth Johnstone: Frick Fine Arts Building as built, 1963; first
and second floor plnas:aerial view; interior of cloister; aerial views
in context of Schenley Plaza and Schenley Park.