Related Architects and Architecture

Architecture is a three-dimensional art (like sculpture) that is applied to the design of edifices and residences. The related word “edify” has the connotation of being uplifting. Sculpture connected to architecture not only decorates the buildings that architects create, but on a higher level gives expression to the style or purpose of that edifice or residence through the opportunity for imbuing it with symbolism or adding another artistic element to a structure. Allen “always regretted that the two [professions] were not more closely allied.” (Smith) Attention to architectural details as well as to the arrangement of spaces and decoration, gives an aesthetic appeal even to a “humble abode” that implies comfort and permanence.

Because of Allen’s Beaux-Arts training under Bela L. Pratt and through the interconnectivity between classical architects, artisans and fine artists, Allen became known to Boston’s architects and was commissioned to do work on or in their buildings. These prominent architects of his time, including John Williams Beal (more on Beal below), were trained in the Beaux Arts style that informed the American Renaissance and the City Beautiful Movement at the turn of the century.

Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886) was America’s original architect. ( Educated first at Harvard in the 1850s, he received his formal training in architecture at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Returning to America, he became the first architect to design in a uniquely modern American idiom, afterward named Richardsonian Romanesque. His most acclaimed early work is his Trinity Church masterpiece. Many budding New England architects worked in his office and learned their trade from him. Among those were McKim and White, the prominent architects who adapted the principles of Beaux-Arts architecture and the classical styles of Greece and Rome to create an American style that produced not only some of the buildings for the “White City” (1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition) but also the Boston Public Library and Boston’s Symphony Hall. They also designed a porch addition to Richardson’s Trinity Church in Copley Square.

J. Williams Beal (1855-1919) was employed by McKim, Mead & White, and as such was one of those in the Richardson legacy. Beal was an architect at a time when architecture was just becoming a formalized profession. The American Institute of Architects held its first meeting in 1857 and filed for incorporation immediately thereafter. Before then, any mason, carpenter or bricklayer who wanted to call himself an architect could do so. There were no schools or licensing laws for architects until Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered a program to teach the art in 1868. Beal was in the first class to graduate from this new program then trained for three years in Beaux Arts at the Sorbonne in Paris. After his time with McKim, Mead & White, he eventually ventured out on his own. His sons worked with him and took over the firm after his death in 1919. (For more on Allen’s work for Beal, see: Elephant Fountain and Lettered Tablet.)

It was to his architect friends that Allen turned for help for the design and renovation of a brick stable that he found on Tavern Road near the Museum. (Information about construction of the Studio.) The combined vision of the sculptor and the architect resulted in an Italianate Studio that Allen used proudly for the rest of his career during part of which it was also his home, and then for a few decades the work was carried on there by the architect Arcangelo Cascieri and sculptor Adio diBiccari.

All of Allen’s collaborations with Architects can be viewed in the “Architectural Collaboration” category, with highlighted works in the Architectural Collaboration gallery.

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