William James Hall, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NYC


Pictured is William James Hall, a major building at Brooklyn College. Opened in the early 1973 as part of the College’s West Quad renovations the building’s formalist style is recently more visible alongside the adjoining structures. In 2009, Rafael Vinoly’s West Quad building replaced the Plaza Building, a concurrent structure to James Hall. The Plaza Building had blocked off the West Quad from the East Quad with a large overpass and now the space is connected across Bedford Avenue.


James Hall is notable for its completely symmetrical design and the entire structure is topped off by a projecting concrete cornice. When originally completed, it housed Education, Sociology, Psychology, Social Sciences, General Studies, and food services.

Special thanks to reader Tara K. for the images!

Sources: http://academicworks.cuny.edu/bc_arch_historybc/42/

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Mundane Mondays: St. Paul Lutheran Church, Albuquerque, NM

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Today’s entry is from a new state for Mid-Century Mundane, New Mexico. Submitted by reader Brigid H. is St. Paul Lutheran Church from 1971.

The structure features swooping brick walls interspersed with narrow windows. It’s a severe yet dynamic facade and the interior evokes a similar feeling as seen in this photo.  The church was designed by Flatow and Moore, prolific local architects. More information on the firm can be found here.

A great inventory of mid-century architecture in the city is Albuquerque Modernism. Definitely worth a visit, as is this government survey of local resources (PDF).

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Clapp Library, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA


Clapp Library is a type of building I feature less often here, an older structure with significant mid-century additions. Here, the additions are substantial enough to change the perception of the building and its relationship to the campus.

The central core is a rather bland formal design, completed in 1910 and added to in 1915, all with money provided by Andrew Carnegie.


In 1956-59, Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott completed a major addition surrounding the library. The addition uses concrete framing with large windows and is significantly more substantial in size than the original structure. By this time the Shepley Bulfinch firm was a behemoth, having far expanded beyond its origins as H.H. Richardson’s successor firm. During the mid-century the firm completed numerous buildings for Harvard, Smith, and Dartmouth, among many other colleges and universities. Several, like the additions at Clapp, lack elegance but continue to serve student needs ably.


At Clapp, another major addition was added in 1973-75 in the same style as the 50s wing. The most prominent feature is a semicircular water feature on the right side of the building which provide a striking view for the large windows on all five floors.


Although I visited in the winter when the water feature was drained, I could still tell that it would be a tranquil spot in the warmer months, as pictured here.




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Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Washington Heights, NYC


This educational building dates from 1960 and is sited on a sloped site at the corner of Bennett Avenue and West 186th Street. Because of the slope the building is elevated a story with recreational facilities for the school on the ground level under the structure. The building, listing different names on the front for the school, the building, and the education center, is actually just one component of the yeshiva complex. It was designed by David Moed, who designed a one-story yeshiva down the street in 1971 that also has blue accents and other synagogues and Jewish centers in the area.

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Brooklyn District Public Health Office, Brooklyn, NYC


This Health Department building in Bedford-Stuyvesant dates from 1954. It’s a boxy, rambling design in orange brick with a central limestone entrance tower. There is minimal exterior detailing, although there is horizontal brick striping around the window at the upper levels and a projecting aluminum overhang at the entrance. .


Harry M. Prince was the architect. Working both on his own and in a partnership with Sylvan Bien, he designed numerous apartment buildings, public housing complexes and commercial structures. He’s probably most well known for Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel. Prince also is responsible for at least two health centers (including this one). A red brick design on Flatbush Avenue could be the other.

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Windsor Terrace Library, Brooklyn, NYC


This one-story library sits at an intersection that must look very different from it did before the library was completed. According to the library’s website, the site was delayed because in the early 1960s, the Gowanus Expressway cut a swath right through the neighborhood in order to connect with Ocean Parkway. Therefore, several blocks were cleared and today the library faces a large playground created during the construction.

The library building is oriented toward the corner with a small plaza carved out at the point within the library’s concave shape. The branch opened in 1969 and was designed by Gustave W. Iser, an architect who mostly designed apartment buildings in Manhattan, the Bronx, and surrounding areas, with a few structures as far away as California.


The main exterior details here are the uniquely patterned exterior walls topped by glass block and a dark brown brick.


Sources: http://public.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki/AIA%20scans/Rosters/IserGustaveW_roster.pdf



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St. Peter St. Paul Catholic Elementary School, Staten Island, NYC


Not much to say about this mundane school on Staten Island. The details here are very minimal–too simple brick boxes with flat roofs and a flat concrete canopy at the central entrance courtyard. Due to its rather late development, Staten Island does have some striking mid-century religious sites, but this is not one.  The school was constructed in 1954.


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