Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24 - Cass Gilbert

Architect Cass Gilbert was born on November 24, 1859, in Zanesville, Ohio, near Columbus, and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he began his architectural career at age 17. His design for the Minnesota state capitol (begun 1896), modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, launched his career. He moved to New York, where he designed major buildings in a classical, Beaux Arts style that presented an idealistic, optimistic view of American society. These included the monumental U.S. Customs House (1901) in lower Manhattan, and the steel-framed, 60-story Woolworth Building (1910-13), known as "The Cathedral of Commerce," which was the world’s tallest building until three major skyscrapers were erected in 1930. Gilbert’s other major works include the Saint Louis Art Museum (1904), the St. Louis Public Library (1912), the George Washington Bridge (1931), and the U.S. Supreme Court Building (1935). Gilbert held deeply conservative, traditional beliefs – dismissed for decades – that architecture is meant to confer dignity and nobility upon people and institutions and to reflect society’s greatest aspirations.

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