Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Auditorium Building - Louis Sullivan


There was a time back when the world was still young and fresh and vigorous, and everything human seemed possible -- at least that's how it must have seemed to those alive at the time. A very different time. Back when progress wasn't a dirty word, and people showed up to celebrate the opening of a new canal that spanned two oceans, bridges that spanned great canyons, or a new railway that linked a continent -- or of inventions like that of the incandescent lightbulb, which forever changed a world that was for so long lit only by fire.

Reefton, New Zealand, was one of the first places to celebrate the invention -- it was the first town in the world to boast electric reticulated lighting, ahead of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park! Architect Louis Sullivan was one of the first to celebrate the new invention in architecture: the golden arches of his auditorium, so gaily lit with the bright bulbs of the new age, its surfaces painted ivory "in subtly graded tones overlaid by three-karat gold leaf" to enhance the effect, brought ravishment to an audience ravening for the stuff. [Story here from the Wall St Journal.]

Alas for the age of the incandescent; killed by more than just a few luddites and their enforcement of 'eco-bulbs' on all of us, like it or not.

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Blogger Jeff Perren said...

Don't despair, Peter. There are signs of a second renaissance in the offing. We may be just young enough to see it.

The late Middle Ages must have seemed very ugly to those on the cusp of the first Renaissance; imagine if they could have but seen a few decades ahead. This one will happen much faster.

10 Sep 2008, 01:53:00  

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