Irving Gill and rediscovery of concrete in California the Marie and Chauncey Clark, 1919-22
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The thesis focuses on a large residence by architect Irving Gill: the house for Marie and Chauncey Dwight Clarke in Santa Fe Springs, California (1919-22). The Clarke House was only discovered as a Gill building in 1981; and although praised by a prominent California historian as a project comparable in the strength of its design to Gill's masterpiece Dodge House (1914-16), there has been virtually nothing published on the project. The thesis attempts to collect the known information about the Clarke House; it documents the house through a series of new photographs, and provides a first set of drawings for the project. The Clarke House is set within the context of Gill's oeuvre in order to lay the groundwork for a wider critical interpretation. The thesis seeks a methodological approach which would avoid seeing Gill's work as either a purely regionalist phenomenon, or an example of Gill's proto-(European) modernism. Rather, the thesis adopts a method which could be called an "iconology of materials." A focus on the material context does not imply any obvious mechanistic relation between the properties of reinforced concrete and Gill's architectural forms - indeed, it will be shown that there is no obvious correlation. While Gill has become synonymous with the pioneering of concrete building technology in California, his interest in the material was always tempered by an intensely pragmatic social philosophy, predicated on economy. In proposing a cultural analysis of concrete in Gill's work, the thesis attempts to account for Gill's passion for reinforced concrete and his ambivalence to its structural potential. It analyzes how Gill exploited concrete's plasticity, monolithic quality, color, and surface effects. Comparisons of the Clarke House to several other major residences also built in Los Angeles c. 1920, show that he was not alone in the metaphoric rediscovery of concrete in California. Yet, the thesis argues that Gill's particular mastery of the material, as evidenced in the Clarke House, depended on his distillation of poignant symbolic images in the work.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1995.Includes bibliographical references (p. 198-202).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology