What would send our architecture students rappelling down the side of a historic monument, you ask? Why, the pursuit of good design, of course!
The students of the Beaux-Arts Atelier have embarked upon a design project steeped in history -- to redesign the base of the George Washington at Valley Forge monument at Continental Army Plaza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a new location at Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan. The preliminary preparation for this task requires them to execute measured drawings, or architectural representations drawn to the scale of an existing structure. And in order to do so, they must first obtain said measurements.
The Williamsburg monument was completed in 1906 by life-long New Yorker Henry Merwin Shrady, who won a design competition in 1901 for the commission. Washington at Valley Forge was his first major foray into public works design. Subsequent to the Williamsburg monument, he went on to execute such major works as the Grant Memorial on the Capital Grounds in Washington, DC and the Robert E. Lee equestrian statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The statue depicts our nation's first president during the six month period from December 1777 to June 1778 when the Continental Army was stationed at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The site was chosen for its location between Philadelphia, where the British Army was camped, and York, the temporary seat of the Continental Congress. Despite the fact that a fourth of the army's 10,000 soldiers perished due to a harsh winter, they departed their encampment at Valley Forge in the spring intact, due in large part to Washington's capacity to lead. Unlike the regal, proud posture depicted in Henry Kirke Brown's monument of Washington in Union Square, Shrady represents Washington at his most humble -- cloaked against the cold, head slightly bowed, and willing to acknowledge the trying times both behind and ahead.
Much work has already emerged from the back studio based upon the measurements. We hope all you will join us here at ICAA headquarters next Wednesday, December 19 from 6--8pm to view this and other works in our End-of-Term Exhibition. We're amazed every day by our student's work, and we look forward to sharing this amazement with all of you!
For more photos of the outing, click here.