William van Alen - Essay Example

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William Van Alen was born in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York. He schooled at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and worked in the Clarence True office. Prior to winning the 1908 Lloyd Warren Fellowship, he also worked in several firms in New York. …
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William van Alen Biography William Van Alen was born in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York. He schooled at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and worked in the Clarence True office. Prior to winning the 1908 Lloyd Warren Fellowship, he also worked in several firms in New York. The award enabled him to study Arts in Europe, and in Paris. In 191, Van Alen went back to New York, and formed an alliance with H. Craig Severance. This partnership came to be popular for its unique multistory business structures, which eliminated the historic method of shaft, base, and capital. However, the alliance broke up in 1925 and Van Alen went on practicing individually in New York, till in 1954 when he died. Contributions to Van Alen’s architecture William Van Alen’s popularity was established after he designed the Chrysler Building, an architectural structure often praised as the greatest portrayal of Art Deco style skyscrapers as well as a wonderful monument to American capitalism. Even though the Chrysler building is currently highly considered, his career was affected following its completion as a result of the allegations made against him by the influential client, William P. Chrysler for taking kickbacks from contactors (Pile 352). Van Alen’s significant contribution to American structural design was to apply to contemporary skyscrapers, the visual language of Art Deco, a global decorative style that stressed streamlined designs, and usually employed modern materials. For example, to make the Chrysler Building unique, he chose designs suitable to the machine age, specifically the automobile. In addition to the lotus ornamentation, the rooms meant for the public in the building portray a range of antique Egyptian designs aimed to suggest the structure’s connection with Pharaoh’s great pyramids. Reasons why William Van Alen is worth examining Van Alen’s construction masterpiece of the Chrysler Building cannot be compared to any empire that other people create. His story is a true indication of reality, a legendary who should be remembered for his ambitious art, made many yeas ago. Although some achievements may seem ignorable, his design of the Chrysler Building is the sole scientific discoveries that can display similar ecstasy as a great structure (Pile 352). His story also can help readers or examiners to realize the fate that a professional could encounter when working with an extremely powerful client. Examining him is a way of appreciating his work since he died with no major readings dedicated to his art; he was a star in the making. William Van Alen’s design philosophy Modernity was his visual vocabulary to design international, beautiful styles that emphasized modernized motifs. This architect worked with the strategy of producing art with progressive and flamboyant designs to be admired by everyone and to last as long as mankind. At his best, he designed nothing less than elegance, functionality, glamour, and modernity. Traditionalism was not part of Van Alen’s policy, but rather, the uniqueness and exclusiveness of architecture. Environmental catalysts that made Van Alen to develop his modernity philosophy The Chrysler Building was build in 1930 and represents modernity. Science is a feature of modernity, yet architecture is accomplished within the boundaries of its real use. With this reason in mind, Van Alen had to include scientific skills in his art. Further, during his time, New York had adopted regulations, which required that superior-tall buildings should be narrowed at the top so that the level of the street would not be choked by the blocking sunrays (Pile 353). Van Alen existed during the jazz age, and for this reason, he had to embrace technology, futurism, and success. The Chrysler was the highest building in the world for four years, with romantic, non-economical, and decorative features. The technological environment that made Chrysler building possible were: Sir Henry Bessemer’s modern procedure of manufacturing steel, an element that offered greater power with less mass and tensile characteristics lacking in traditional cast iron,; and a the perfection of the elevator, which was necessary for tall buildings. Reflections of modernity in Van Alen’s work Among the purely commercial structures of Art Deco, the Roxys, the Odeon, and the more solemn, high minded modernisms of all structures, the Chrysler Building is the most outstanding. He believed in the present, or at least the future and ornamentation was not to be left out. According to Ian Suttons in the series, “World of Art,” Western Architecture, he says this about the building: “The new materials, steel, and reinforced concrete were an opportunity, not a discipline. The architects favored the curve rather than the straight line (the style was nicknamed ‘Streamlined Modern’); it was chic, it was up-to-date, it was avant-garde with a touch of elitism, the perfect background to the jazz age.” The building has steel frames, metal claddings, and masonry construction. It also has four banks of eight elevators, and 3,862 casements on its frontage features not common in traditional structures. The building might also serve as a car, absolutely an object creditable of a cathedral-like structure in modern day America. Generally, to distinct the Chrysler from other buildings, Van Alen chose designs suitable to the machine age, specifically the automobile. Work Cited Pile F. John. A History of Interior Design, 2nd edition. New York: Laurence King Publishing, 2005. Print. Read More
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