Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/257

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THE PROPOSED NEW YORK COURTHOUSE THE proposed new courthouse for the county of New York, for the construction of which Mr. Guy Lowell has been appointed architect, promises to be of an impressive and distinctive character. A courthouse of circular form is a novelty, yet what is likely to be the largest courthouse in the world, and may well be dignified by a style of architecture differentiating it from the other massive structures of a modern city, falls so naturally into the round mould that one may quickly lose sight of the unconventionality of Mr. Low ell's design in one's admiration of its reasonableness. A huge building was called for, with more than sixty court rooms and ample provision for justices' chambers, jury rooms, and other appur tenances besides. The bulk of the structure alone would go a long way toward giving it an imposing appear ance, and perhaps would indicate a rel atively plain exterior as certain to prove most effective. The circular form seems to meet the requirements of beauty with as much success as those of utility. This is largely because of the immensity of the structure, which will cover the area of four city blocks, with a diameter of five hundred feet, and rise to a height of more than ten stories. While neighboring skyscrapers will tower above it, it will be so set off by the open spaces of the new civic


centre that it will loom up impressively at a distance, being seen through the vistas that the new arrangement of buildings will permit, and will offer the same stately and beautiful facade from whatever direction it is viewed. We can readily believe that the pub lished drawings fail to give an adequate notion of the beauty of the structure, because they isolate it from the surround ings which the architect must have had in mind in forming his design and fail to indicate the harmonious effect likely to be attained, and also because the texture of the materials and play of light and shade on columns and balus trades will set the finer features of the design into sharper relief. Probably the effectiveness of the great colonnade that will surround the building at the height of several stories above the street level will not fully be appreciated until the courthouse has reached an advanced stage of construction. Mr. Lowell sought his inspiration in the simplicity of an adaptation of the Roman and Greek styles, and the design has the strength which is derived from these perennial sources of artistic stimu lation. The work he has already done in the simpler styles well fits him to accomplish this great undertaking with out producing a building of disagreeably severe lines. The rigidity of the circu lar form will be relieved by the four large porticoes. While it has been said that a circular building never yet made a straight-lined portico a part of itself,