Robert Mills was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1781 and graduated from the College of Charleston. People, especially architect people, argue about whether he is the first native born American architect or the second behind Charles Bulfinch, but I don't care. The designer of the Washington Monument (Mills, won in competition) left his fingerprints all over the landscape of his hometown.
Posts from the ‘Photography’ Category
There's a kind of cold that finds crevices, that seeps through layers, that renders life immobile. It felt her up, while she stood knee-deep in spun sugar and watched it twinkle like glitter in the air. It breached her mittens and wool coat. Slipped under her sweater. Seared her skin like flame.
“Quick, take some photos while it’s still daylight.”
That is one of the challenges of Helsinki in November. Not that the ‘daylight’ is particularly bright, especially when the sun never actually makes an appearance. But still, with something as intriguing as the Chapel of Silence, it is interesting to get the daytime perspective. And interesting to see how it still has its own inner glow.
Maybe the glow is emanating from the fibers of the natural wood. Or maybe from the silence within.
In any event, it is a building that entices. And one that has managed to bridge the gap between MTM’s sensibility (or lack thereof) and mine. If we decide to renew our vows once again, maybe this place will still be here for us….
This is a bonus post, or number eight of seven. I had not realized how hard it would be to write about architecture without using pictures; it was so fortunate that MTM’s Seven Architectural Wonders were able to be illustrated by alternating between the blogs of Kate Shrewsday and the Andra Watkins. Since I (MTM) am no longer a paid pedant, I tried to make these as entertaining and enlightening as possible in 600 words or less. The only ground rule: I could not include a work of architecture that I have not experienced directly and personally, just as one’s list of Great Books should not include a book one hasn’t yet read.
I am truly grateful for all of the comments and interest generated by my week of writing on architecture for The Accidental Cootchie Mama and Kate Shrewsday. It is nice to know that my posts managed to have you thinking and looking at architecture in new ways. Certainly, the limit of Seven made for a steep challenge, and I will be the first to admit that the seven featured works are far from exclusive.
While I have returned the blogging reins to Andra and Kate, here is one last missive to stretch your architectural acumen: or at least to see if you have been paying attention and reading between the lines. In honor of the completion of MTM’s Seven Wonders of Architecture, we have a little contest. With a prize.
Those of you that read along with the week of posts that began on September 5 with The City and Its Tower and concluded yesterday with The Eternal Frame know full well the way the architectural theme was woven throughout. The more astute readers among you may have also recognized two peripheral themes that ran in parallel with the Seven Wonders.
Our contest is to identify the two other themes. Both themes are imbedded in every blog post over the week. The winner will be the first person to correctly identify both of the themes in a comment on both blogs; your comment must appear on both www.andrawatkins.com and www.kateshrewsday.com to be valid.
The winner will receive an architecturally-themed prize (of course) delivered to their doorstep. Andra is not eligible (she knows the answer) and Kate should sit on her hands and let others try, since she has control over the comment stream on her blog. Either Andra or Kate will be identifying the winner, and I will be personally responsible for getting the winner their prize.
Thank you for reading along. Have at it….
He was stuck–dumbstruck, really. This was not what he was expecting, and his emotions had overtaken his wonder. Less than thirty minutes ago, he was in extreme unction, his life on a knife’s edge. Wandering those tight dark alleyways, surrounded by all this solidity, the sense of weightlessness unnerved him. It was already replaying in his mind as he stood in this room, as he knew it would for the rest of the life he now had had given back to him. How if his foot had slipped one bit off of that edge he would have been smashed to smithereens. It chilled him to his bones, yet he couldn’t decide if it was from his slim escape, or the shock of the explosion of space, the sliver of sky, the framed glimpse of the heavens.
So it was that he fully understood her emotions when she stepped foot into The Pantheon for the first time. It did not require that she feel that she had cheated death; she simply felt the awesome power of this perfect volume. Like that cavern, the oculus admitted a single shaft of light: here it was not an accident of erosion, but the intentional introduction of the dome’s designers. It slashed across the space, alighting on the concave walls of the monumental cylinder. Transfixed, it became the one marker of the passage of time, of seconds, minutes, hours and eons.
He crawled around the outside, looking for clues of the compromises he had learned of. He was always irked that the portico was ill-proportioned, and there it was, the traces of how a smaller portico had been grafted on after the ship with the grander columns had sunk somewhere down the Nile. How the builders had to go down to the Rome Depot to pick up some other columns in order to meet the deadline of Agrippa’s coronation. She was uninterested, and dragged him back through the black anteroom and into the perfect sphere of space.
The memory rushed back at him, like a freight train plowing through the piazza. In an instant he was exploring the lava caves of Mt. Suswa in Kenya again, miles from civilization. He could feel his toes tickling the edge of the precipice, loose rocks tinkling down the cavern, their echoes sending signals of infinity as their journey found no bottom to the void that yearned to swallow him whole and steal his life, his promise, his ambitions, his sins and sacraments. The floor of the cave had given way, and he of the seven was the sacrifice. His instinct to reach for any crack and the narrowest of ledges were all that stood between him and his end.
His companions had grasped him, pulling him out of the gaping maw. It was only when they happened upon that sun-stroked cavern that the heaviness really hit him.
Like it was hitting him now, inside The Pantheon. It is easy to be lazy about our lives in the minutes and minutiae of the daily grind. Here in this perfect room, he couldn’t help but think in lifetimes and eons, of the second chance he had gotten, and how, at this moment, holding the love of his life and cradled by his passion, he was one with eternity.