Weidlinger, Paul

First Presbyterian Church

Added by jon buono, last update: April 17, 2012, 11:21 pm

First Presbyterian Church
Exterior view of First Presbyterian Church, source: Church Archives, Dorothy Mix, Historian, date: 1986
Location
1101 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT 06902
United States
41° 3' 43.8552" N, 73° 32' 19.7844" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Religion (REL)
Secondary classification: Education (EDC)
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

None

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, Connecticut was founded in 1853 and dedicated its first house of worship, a white frame colonial church at the edge of downtown Stamford. In 1884 a stone church replaced this building as the congregation’s membership increased and Stamford expanded around it. In 1952 the congregation’s size had doubled and acceptable worship and classroom space, and parking were problems. They decided to celebrate the congregation’s centenary by moving to a new building at 1101 Bedford Street. In the 1940s they had bought this eleven acres of rolling and wooded land, at what had become the new edge of downtown Stamford.

The site’s building committee was originally in favor of building another white frame colonial church. However, some committee members became intrigued with the possibility of building a modern design church after visiting St. John’s Lutheran Church in Midland, Michigan (Designed by Adrian B. Dow who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright). To resolve the question of colonial vs. modern, a firm of architects, Sherwood, Mills, & Smith was asked to study the project in collaboration with an outside architect. One of the partners was acquainted with Wallace Harrison and recommended choosing him as the outside architect.

“Donald F. Campbell, First Presbyterian’s pastor, remembers that at his first meeting with Sherwood, members of the congregation, and Harrison, the latter ‘expressed his interest in getting to know me and our theology. He wanted to go to Europe to look at churches there. Wally didn’t know what he would do, but he was honest about it. He was the only one without preconceived ideas for the project.’ As a result of this meeting, Harrison, in association with the firm of Sherwood, Mills, & Smith was asked to design the church complex: he would be responsible for the sanctuary (and a bell tower added in 1968); Willis N. Mills would take on the remainder of the project, consisting of a small chapel and an educational complex” (Newhouse 167).

Dr. Campbell explained to Harrison that Christian theology as interpreted by American Presbyterians “addressed a God who was as much a part of everyday life as he was a transcendental being — a concept that the new sanctuary should somehow convey” (Newhouse 169). In 1953 Harrison visited churches and cathedrals in Europe reflecting on how to design a modern sanctuary, which would express this theology. His design was approved by the congregation, construction began, and the sanctuary was dedicated in 1958. When the sanctuary was completed Harrison declared, “the church was the most satisfying job I ever worked on” (Newhouse 172).

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission 1953 (c) Completion of the sanctuary 1958 (e) Completion of the carillon tower 1968 (e)
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect: Wallace K. Harrison of the firm Harrison & Abramovitz; Stained Glass: Gabriel Loire; Structural Engineer: Paul Weidlinger; Landscape Architect: Dan Kiley; Acoustical Consultants: Bolt, Beranck & Newman; Building Contractor: Deluca Construction Company
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Type of change: Replacement of sanctuary organ Date: 1991 (e) Persons/organizations involved: Visser Rowland Organs Circumstances/reasons for changes: Original sanctuary organ, an Allen electronic organ, began to require constant repair as its vacuum tubes aged. The Allen organ was replaced with a Visser-Rowland mechanical action pipe organ of four manuals, seventy-four ranks, fifty-one stops, and containing 4,026 pipes.
Current Use: The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, Connecticut continues to serve the purposes for which it was designed. There are no known proposals that would affect the concept or functions of the building.
Current Condition: The béton-glas, colored glass pieces inlaid in resin filler, are secured to the side wall concrete panels with caulking. The caulk weathers, and water infiltrates resulting in leaks during rainstorms. Also water infiltrates through the concrete. The exterior coating is not resistant enough to weathering to keep water from entering the structure. As water enters the concrete, it draws out in a process of efflorescence, calcium from the concrete. The leached calcium stains the interior walls. The caulking has been replaced three times since the sanctuary was constructed. However, while the material sciences of caulking and exterior coating are improving they have not yet reached a level of barring water infiltration.
General Description:

The sanctuary is constructed of 152 precast concrete panels, which rise to a height of sixty feet and span the sanctuary space without supports, forming a canopy. For eighty percent of the side wall length, the panels are inlaid with 20,000, one-inch thick pieces of colored pot-metal glass manufactured in Gabriel Lorie’s atelier in Chartres. Harrison, depicting themes from the crucifixion and resurrection, arranges the stained glass in abstract designs. This main portion of the sanctuary, the nave, is entered from the narthex, mostly in darkness except for a small amount of light entering from stained glass at the rear of the narthex. Although it was not intentional by Harrison, the sanctuary is in the shape of a fish leading to the name “the Fish Church.”

The chancel of the sanctuary is dominated by a 32-foot high cross, faced with wood from the library of Canterbury Cathedral in England, damaged by bombing during World War II. Seating capacity in the nave is 670, with 50 more seats in the balcony above the narthex.

The Maguire Memorial Carillon Tower, designed by Harrison, rises to a height of 260 feet and is located along side of the sanctuary. It contains fifty-six bells and incorporates thirty-six bells, which were given to the City of Stamford in 1947 by the Nestle Company. The Church holds these bells in trust for the city.

Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Wallace K. Harrison first became aware of Gabriel Loire’s technique of embedding colored chunks of pot-metal glass into concrete during his European tour of churches after receiving the commission.

"(He) turned his attention to Loire’s béton-glas to see if this material of medieval origin could be used with a structural system of folded concrete that would span a space without supports. On the grounds of his Long Island home, in the same area where he had worked out the problems of prefabricated housing, Harrison spent painstaking hours tilting heavy concrete panels to test the angles at which they would stand and hold weight. The result was the use of 152 similar precast concrete panels for the sanctuary, rising to a height of sixty feet to support the structure. Each concrete structure element is reinforced with rows of protruding steel rods (reinforcement rods) that are fastened to the rods of adjoining concrete sections and then reinforced with larger rods and a layer of cement (concrete) (Harrison is forming a cast in situ vertical joint which combines the precast panels). For almost the entire width of the side walls, the panels are inlaid with thick chunks of faceted, multicolored glass. At either end, where the church is made of concrete unrelieved by glass, the exterior walls are covered with slate shingles, as is most of the roof. … the church is 234 feet long, fifty-four feet wide, and covers an area of 11,500 square feet” (Newhouse 169).

Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
Historical:

“There are, however a few noteworthy exceptions that embody his (Harrison’s) personal style; among them are the First Presbyterian Church at Stamford, Connecticut, two auditoriums, one for Rockefeller University in New York and another for the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C., and a small lodge for Nelson Rockefeller at Pocantico” (Newhouse 166).

In 1964 Harrison employed the béton-glas technique he first used in the First Presbyterian Church, in construction of the Hall of Science for the New York World’s Fair. The Great Hall is constructed of an undulating eighty-foot high, fifteen-inch thick wall. The wall is formed into 5,400 rectangular coffers of about twenty-eight by forty-eight inches. Inside each rectangle is a thin panel of concrete studded with chunks of cobalt blue Dalla de verre glass. Standing in the Great Hall, the effect is … as Harrison intended … of floating in the void of space. In 2014 a major renovation of the Great Hall, now known as the New York Hall of Science, will be completed.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Newhouse, Victoria, Wallace K. Harrison, Architect, New York, NY, Rizzoli, 1989

Authoring
Recorder/Date: George Castellion / April 2012
Additional Images
First Presbyterian Church
Carillon Tower, Source: Church Archives, Dorothy Mix, Historian, date: 1970
First Presbyterian Church
Interior of Sanctuary, Source: Church Archives, Dorothy Mix, Historian, date: 1998
First Presbyterian Church
Raising the Sanctuary’s Precast Concrete Panels, Source: Church Archives, Dorothy Mix, Historian, date: 1956
First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church at Stamford, Connecticut, Source: Church Archives, Dorothy Mix, Historian, date: 1956

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Added by Liz Waytkus, last update: October 14, 2011, 10:18 pm

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Exterior view, source: Keller, John; Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Construction Photographs, May 1961-Sept. 1963, date: June 1963
Location
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
41° 18' 41.49" N, 72° 55' 37.7004" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In March 1959, Yale library head James T. Babb and brothers (and Yale Alumni) Edwin and Frederick Beinecke began discussions about construction of a new space to house Yale's growing collection of rare books, which were then located in Sterling Memorial Library. The Beinecke Family financed the project as a gift to the university. The new building would need to provide protection for the rare books, many of which where in very fragile condition; exist as a state-of-the-art research facility for scholars; and to be physically striking, as if to visually convey the importance of its holdings. In October 1959, after much discussion over the choice of architect, Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was chosen. Bunshaft designed a two-component, 88,347-square-foot building: A six-story above-ground structure, a fully open space with an interior enclosed-glass temperature-controlled tower to house 160,000 books; and a below-ground area containing stacks, office space, classrooms, a study area, and a garden courtyard designed by Isamu Noguchi. Daylight is broadcast in through a grid of Vermont Montclair Danby marble panes that glow at night from interior illumination. The building’s dimensions are mathematically proportioned: it is twice the width of its height and three times as long. Construction began in early 1960. Fuller Construction managed the project. The Beinecke family has never revealed the cost. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was dedicated on October 11, 1963. Its holdings include maps and letters from the Lewis and Clark exhibition; documents from Boccacio, Wordsworth, Joseph Conrad, and Gertrude Stein; and a 15th-century Gutenberg Bible, one of only 48 known copies still in existence.

Dates: Commission / Completion:October 1959/October 1963
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect: Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Sculpture Garden: Isamu Noguchi; Structural Engineer: Paul Weidlinger; Mechanical Engineers: Jaros, Baum, & Bolles; Contractor: George A. Fuller.
Others associated with Building/Site: Partner in Charge of Coordination: David H. Hughes; Design Assistant: Sherwod A. Smith; Job Captain: Morris Zelkowitz; Interior Design: Davis. B. Allen; Lighting: Edison Price.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Roof Replacement and Maintenance (1982, 1994, 2008): The original roof was completely replaced in 1982. Flashing repairs were made in 1994. The 1982 roof was completely replaced in fall 2008. This project enabled the replacement of the interior mezzanine ceiling lighting fixtures and ceiling tiles. Exterior Glass Window Maintenance (1992 & 2004): The entire marble courtyard glass window wall was removed, reflashed, cleaned, reglazed, and placed back into the courtyard. In 2004 the plaza-level window wall was also treated and laminated safety glass was installed. Elevator Replacement and Installation (1996 & 1998): The 1963 elevator and casing were replaced in 1996 and a new elevator installed in the West wing in 1998. Plumbing Renovation (1999): the toilet facilities were completely renovated in 1999. Modern Retrofit (1990s – Dec. 2000): Gregg Wies & Gardner Architects designed a renovation plan for Beinecke to implement state-of-the-art technologies. The general contractor was Leach Building (later the Pike Company). Included in the scope of the project were reconstruction and refurnishing of all office spaces and service areas, conversion of 50,000 square feet of fixed stacks to compact shelving, new multi-purpose classrooms and electronic media facilities, and rewiring for computer networks, security, and fire protection systems. Plaza Retrofit (May 2004-2005): In May 2005 work began on a major plaza-level waterproofing retrofit. Project used 22 miles of 1-inch glycol/water tubing to aid in winter snowmelt water control. New Haven's Buckingham Routh Company handled the mechanical systems and the Pike Company of Kensington, CT, was the general contractor. The architect for the project was Rich Charney. The retrofit was completed in 2005 and its implementation resulted in a new winter visual: low-hovering fog, the result of snow melting before it hits the plaza.
Current Use: The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library continues to serve the purpose for which it was designed. The library has six major collections: the General Collection of Early Books and Manuscripts, the General Collection of Modern Books and Manuscripts, the Collection of American Literature, the Collection of Western Americana, the German Literature Collection, and the Osborn Collection of English Literary and Historical Manuscripts. The Beinecke’s current holdings include more than 500,000 volumes and several million manuscripts. It is one of the largest facilities in the world specifically dedicated to housing rare books. The library also hosts and sponsors many lectures, readings, and exhibitions.
Current Condition: Due to diligent maintenance and upgrades over the past three decades, the building is in good functional form. However the building’s envelope—specifically the marble and granite—are in need of repair and possible replacement. Forty five years have passed since the building was constructed and the marble panels are exhibiting deterioration caused by a number of factors: defects in the marble, temperature and humidity fluctuations that have caused the marble to cave in and out each season, and possible pressure variations from the original installation. A study has shown that thirty-five of the 250 marble panels exhibit cracks. A decade-long study is underway to track changes and growth in these cracks. The thirty-five known cracks were filled with a Jahn mortar in 2007 and have been regularly monitored since.
General Description:

Bunshaft designed the Beinecke as a two-component structure on a 200’-0” x 350’-0” site plan. The largest and most visible component is the six-story above-ground structure (86'-0” x 130'-0” x 58'-0”), which is a fully open space containing an interior glass-curtain-wall enclosed temperature-controlled tower (35'-0” x 60'-0”) to house books. The smaller component is a below-ground research center that contains stacks, office space, classrooms, a study area, and a garden courtyard designed by Isamu Noguchi. The library’s total square footage is 88,347. The roof of the subterranean area serves as the plaza, which is a central social landmark on the Yale campus. The above-ground structure sits in the heart of the Yale campus and can best be described as a giant marble cube. It is a stark contrast to the older surrounding buildings that are more evocative of collegiate scholarship. Many have described the Beinecke as a “jewel box,” which is not surprising given the warm glow the illuminated marble exudes after the sun has set. The original interior appointments were lush and dark: bronze, black leather upholstery, wood paneling, teak tables and desks, carpeted and granite floors. The mid-1990s retrofit replaced much of the textiled elements with more contemporary furnishings and materials. The sculpture garden, which was sunk into the center of the plaza, contains three large marble sculptures from Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. The three sculptures are in the shapes of a pyramid, a globe, and a cube.

Construction Period:

The above-ground structure is built with Vierendeel welded steel tapered-cross trusses into which a grid of 1 1/4-inch-thick Vermont Montclair Danby marble panes have been fit. Each façade consists of a single steel truss (four total). Each truss bears its own weight plus some of the roof load; this weight is transferred through reinforced steel girders to the corner columns. The roof is steel-framed and steel-decked. The weight of the building is supported by four bronze-covered pin joints on granite-covered reinforced concrete corner columns. The columns extend fifty feet below grade to bedrock. The interior core also bears some of the weight of the roof. All columns, walls, and floors are reinforced concrete. The exterior steel is clad in granite while the interior frame is clad in precast stone and granite. Because the weight of the building is focused into the four corner columns the plaza level and entry area provide a seamless circulation plane.

Original Physical Context:

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library sits prominently and visibly in the center of the Yale University campus. It is a “new” building nestled among the old, which is an apt juxtaposition given that the library’s holdings are some of the oldest texts in existence. While different in style than the surrounding buildings, the library is similar in proportion ad scale. Across the plaza (known as both Beinecke Plaza and Hewitt Quadrangle) are Commons, Memorial Hall, and Woolsey Hall, a Beaux-Arts Carrere and Hastings complex that houses an auditorium, dining hall, and administrative offices; and Woodbridge Hall, where the office of the president is located. To the south of the Beinecke, across Wall Street, sits medieval-inspired Berkeley College, and just west of Berkeley is Sterling Memorial Library, a granite gothic structure that was the previous home for the university’s rare book and manuscript collection. Immediately west of the Beinecke is Yale Law School, which features a complex of Gothic buildings built with brick and limestone. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is not the only modern building on the Yale campus, but it is the most prominent and centrally located. The other modern buildings are located closer to the campus periphery. These include the Art and Architecture Building, designed by Paul Rudolph (who was the dean of the architecture school at the time) and completed in 1963, the same year as the Beinecke; the Yale Art Gallery, designed by Louis Kahn and built in 1953 (the building underwent a complete renovation in 2006 by Polshek Partnership Architects); and several buildings by Eero Saarinen, including Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges and the Ingalls Ice Rink.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Much of Yale’s collection of rare literature is very fragile. Though known for his glass-and-steel curtain wall designs, Bunshaft knew that windows would be a risky inclusion and necessitate careful design planning. The decision to grid the façade in large marble panes was borne out of the need for muted light that would not put the building’s contents at risk. Bunshaft initially planned for onyx panels but when not enough material could be located the choice was made to include Vermont marble, sliced into 1-1/4”-thick panels. Acknowledged marble-curtain-wall influences include the north-transept Portail des Libraries at the Rouen Cathedral, and the Tokapi Palace in Istanbul. The pin-joint columns and resulting circulation area give the illusion that the Beinecke is “floating,” implying that the structure is far less hefty than in reality.

Social:

The construction of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library marked a radical shift in architectural aesthetic of the Yale University campus. Whereas most of Yale’s buildings are styled in the collegiate Gothic formula of college campuses nationwide, the Beinecke is an exciting cubic surprise. Its benefactors sought to build a structure that befit its contents—something rare and special and wholly unique. In the landscape of the Yale campus, this goal was reached. In the context of the modern movement, this building exists as a successful example of blending new with old, and function with aesthetic.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Bunshaft is quoted as describing the building as the following: “What it is is a huge vault, a secure place with tremendous humidity and temperature control and stacking of books. In addition to that, there’s some offices for curators, there’s a reading room for a few scholars, and some exhibit space for little books and stuff.” This modest description of some of the building’s features shows that Bunshaft was mindful of the building’s intended function. Many of his design decisions were informed by this awareness; the marble panels (which were originally intended to be onyx but not enough material was available) were a substitute for windows, a complex design element that would protect the rare books from damaging sunlight while still allowing light to penetrate the interior. The enclosed glass tower in the interior’s core would allow for isolated temperature and humidity control where it was needed most. And the vast, six-story open interior space struck an immediate and profound impression on any first-time visitor: this was no ordinary building, just as its contents were similarly rare. Understandably, the library was met with equal favor and disdain. Time has won over the Beinecke’s critics, and today the library is one of Yale’s most beloved and iconic buildings.
Historical:

In June, 1967 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill receive five AIA "Honor Awards" including one for Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. (The other four SOM buildings out of 20 awards total include: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kamuela, Hawaii; Vannevar Bush Center for Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts; National Headquarters, American Republic Insurance Company, Des Moines, Iowa; and Office Building and Residence, Banque Lambert, Brussels, Belgium.) The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has become so loved by the Yale community that the university’s imprint published a book—The Beinecke Library of Yale University—in 2003 in honor of the library’s fortieth anniversary, filled with essay contributions from employees past and present.

General Assessment:
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a shining architectural specimen of the modern movement. Bunshaft’s simple design shifted the aesthetic of Yale’s central corridor while also setting engineering precedents that went far beyond the campus confines. It was also a departure from Bunshaft’s glass curtain wall designs, effectively marking a new era of the architect’s work. It is a visually bold and architecturally important building that is well used, well-known, well cared for, all hallmarks of successful architecture.
Documentation
Text references:

Adams, Nicholas. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill : SOM Since 1936. New York: Phaidon Press, 2007, 1904313557.
Architecture of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1950–1962. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.
"The 1967 Honor Awards." AIA Journal 47 (1967): 44–64.
Parks, Steven (ed.) The Beinecke Library of Yale University. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003, 0845731505.
Krinsky, Carol Herselle. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Cambridge, MA: the MIT Press, 1988, 0262111306.
"Rare Book Library." Architecture International 1 (1965): 88–95.
"Rare Book Library at Yale Dedicated." Architectural Record 134 (1963): 12–13.
Reese, Ilse M., and James T. Burns Jr. "The Opposites: Expressionism and Formalism at Yale." Progressive Architecture 45 (1964): 130–33.
Rotella, Katie. "Radiant Innovations." Plumbing & Mechanical 23 (2005): 43+.
"Yale Rare Book and Manuscript Library." Progressive Architecture 45 (1964): 130–33.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: March 2009
Additional Images
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Interior view of glass stack tower and books from mezzanine, Source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Construction Photographs, May 1961-Sept. 1963, date: unknown
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