Redwood Library

Redwood Library

One of Newport’s most venerable buildings is the Redwood Library. This structure is home to the nation’s oldest circulating library still in its original building. Its creation was a product of the Philosophical Club, a group of leading local business men in the early part of the eighteenth century who gathered around the famous Bishop Berkeley, a colonial era religious leader and thinker. The group wished to establish a circulating library for use by its members and a place where they could meet and discuss issues of the day. The Library was founded in 1747 by 46 local businessmen. The two primary donors to the effort were Henry Collins, who provided the land at what was then the edge of the town settlement, and Abraham Redwood, who provided a generous sum to help acquire books for the new institution. More

Codman, Wharton Subject of Symposium

Codman, Wharton Subject of Symposium

The fourth annual Newport Architectural Symposium, which was held here last Saturday, focused on the creative interaction between the noted American author Edith Warton and architect and designer Ogden Codman.  These two artistic giants began their careers in Newport, where Codman designed the interior of Land’s End, Wharton’s home on Ledge Road. More

The Ballroom at Marble House

The Ballroom at Marble House

If there is one thing that the great houses of Newport were really built for, it is to throw a party. Many of the great “cottages” are really just enormous entertaining spaces with five and six bedroom homes attached. One of the grandest of ballrooms ever to be built in Newport is the one in Marble House, which was designed by Richard Morris Hunt in 1888 for Mrs. William K . Vanderbilt. This magnificent home is now part of the collection of buildings preserved by the Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) and is open for visitation. More

Towards a Sustainable Architecture

Towards a Sustainable Architecture

Many people are asking themselves two question given the current state of the world: “How can I can money during the recession?” and “How can I reduce my carbon footprint given the disturbing changes many are seeing in the global environment?”

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The Breakers

The Breakers

Newport is known for its stately homes but the Breakers sets the standard for stately homes not just in Newport but for homes built in the nineteenth century everywhere. Designed for Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895 by Richard Morris Hunt, one of the greatest architects of the late 19th century, the Breakers is a masterpiece (and is often considered the archetype) of American Renaissance Revival architecture. The building is listed as having more than 125,000 square feet of space, more than 100 times the size of a typical house of that period. More

Newport Architecture & History

Newport Architecture & History

The history of Newport (and therefore to a degree the cultural history of America) is written in the architecture of our “City by the Sea.” Unfortunately, that history is written in columns, rooflines, door styles and a myriad of other architectural elements that are hard for those not trained in their unique language and grammar to read and understand. Remarkably, this past month has seen the completion of two longstanding projects which will help bridge the divide for those who wish to look more deeply into the story of Newport through its architecture and urban planning. More

Bois Dore and the Ballrooms of Newport

Bois Dore and the Ballrooms of Newport

If there is one thing that the great houses of Newport were really built for, it is to throw a party. Sometimes it seems like the great “cottages” are really just ballrooms with (comparatively) small five and six bedroom houses attached. BelcourtCastle (until the intervention of Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont) was really just a gigantic one bedroom apartment built over a set of stables. Marble House is famous for its single, grand guest bedroom and Rosecliff’s great interior ballroom dominates the house where Tessie Oelrichs once entertained so lavishly during the six or eight weeks a year that her family lived in Newport. These three houses and Beechwood, Marble House’s next door neighbor, continue to serve as the sites for fabulous weddings and special events many weekend evenings during the summer.

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The Breakers Circulation Study

The Breakers Circulation Study

DoorRendering

 

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Before the Flood

Before the Flood

Super Storm Sandy hit America forcefully, both in a physical and in a psychological way. Now that the New York  / New Jersey area has been hit by major weather events not just is successive years but (with the winter storm Athena) in successive weeks, many are wondering if global climate change is finally fulfilling the warnings that scientists have been making for decades and whether this situation is now “the new normal.” While weather is extraordinarily complicated, it was recently noted in the press that no one under 27 years of ages has ever experienced even a single month that was below normal for the last hundred years in the United States, so (as the song says) you don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. More

New Urbanism and Mixed-Use Development

New Urbanism and Mixed-Use Development

“New Urbanism” is a term that has come into common usage after the foundation of the Congress for New Urbanism in 1993, but the ideas behind this concept are as old as cities themselves—it is just that we had forgotten the principles for a very long time.  To abbreviate the basic requirements for New Uurbanism, which are well summarized on the Victoria Transport web site (www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm24.htm): More