|Home -> John J. Newbegin -> The City of Domes -> Chapter 2|
"You see," said the architect as we started down the hill, "when the Exposition builders began their work they found the setting of the Mediterranean here. It justified them in reproducing the art of the Orient and of Greece and Rome which was associated with it, modified of course to meet the special requirements. Besides, they didn't want to be tied down to the severe type of architecture in vogue in this country."
First of all, he went on to explain, they had created a playground. There they appealed to the color sense, strong in the Italians and the Orientals, and weak among the people in this country, decidedly in need of fostering, and the appeal was not merely to the intellect, but to the emotions as well. Color was as much a part of architecture as of painting. So, in applying the color, Guerin worked with the architects. He never made a plan without taking them into consultation. Then, too, Calder, acting head of the Department of Sculpture, and Denneville, the inventor of the particular kind of imitation Travertine marble used on the grounds, were active in all the planning. In fact, very little was done without the co-operation of Guerin, Calder, Denneville and Kelham, chief of the Architectural Board. In getting the Exposition from paper to reality, they had succeeded in making it seem to be the expression of one mind. Even in the development of the planting the architects had their say. Here landscape gardening was actually a part of the architecture. Faville's wall, for example, was built with the understanding that its bareness was to be relieved with masses of foliage, creating shadows.
Before the Scott Street entrance we paused to admire the high hedge of John McLaren. We went close to examine the texture. The leaves of the African dewplant were so thick that they were beginning to hide the lines between the boxes.
"Faville realized the importance of separating the city from the rest of the world, making it sequestered. He knew that a fence wouldn't be the right sort of thing. So he conceived the idea of having a high, thick wall, modeled after an old English wall, overgrown with moss and ivy. As those walls were generations in growing, he saw that to produce one in a few months or even a few years required some ingenuity. He set to work on the problem and he devised a scheme for making an imitation hedge by planting ivy in deep boxes and piling the boxes on one another. When he submitted it to McLaren he was told that it was good except for the use of the ivy. It would be better to use African dew plant. Later McLaren improved on the scheme by using shallow boxes.
"Faville designed a magnificent entrance here," the architect went on, glancing up at the three modest arches that McLaren had tried to make as attractive as possible with his hedge. "It would have been very appropriate. But the need of keeping down expenses caused the idea to be sacrificed. However, the loss was not serious. As a matter of fact, in spite of the efforts of the Exposition to persuade visitors to come in here, a great many preferred to enter by the Fillmore Street gate. During the day this approach is decidedly the more attractive on account of leading directly into the gardens and into the approach to the court. The Fillmore Street entrance, with the Zone shrieking at you at one side, hardly puts you in the mood for the beauty in the courts. At night the situation is somewhat different. The flaring lights of the Zone make the dimness of the court all the more attractive."