Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay.

The Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.38 (Aug.-Oct. 1914)) online

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evolution and improvement in the construction and design of our schools.
The public makes a liberal supply of funds ; the best architects find it worth
their while to study the school problem, and our monthly magazines find, in
school architecture, interesting matter for illustration.

To come now from the general to the particular, what are the special
improvements in the modern school buildings?

First, better construction, especially in resistance to fire and better pro-
vision for exits. City and state building laws aid this advance. Our larger
cities require all schools to be of fireproof construction. The example of
these buildings leads architects to approximate, at least, fireproof construction
in other communities. The approximations consist in more numerous brick
walls; making the stairs and corridors fireproof; the substitution of metal
for wood lath ; or the use of tile partitions ; the inaking of the main floor
fireproof, even though the upper floors and roof be combustible. The object
to be sought in the construction of a school is to make a building in which the
escape of the pupils cannot be cut off by fire or smoke. .\ fire in the roof space
might ultimately spread downward and destroy the building, but there would
be ample time for the pupils to escape before the fire or smoke could reach
them ; but a fire in the basement would travel upward rapidly and the smoke
would fill the corridors. Hence the value of a fireproof floor above the

1 lie .Irchitcct and F.itf;iiu-rr 75

If a school is rcasoiial)ly well planned and l)uilt, there is little danger of
actual contact with fire. The greatest danger is from panic and the result-
ing crushing on the stairways. The conspicuous avoidance of all comhustible
materials in the corridors and stairs will do much to allay groundless fear
and thus avoid panic. If, from daily use of fireproof exits, both teachers and
pupils gain the impression that their escape cannot be cut off by fire, they are
not likely to lose self control in time of actual alarm.

.\nother improvement is in the line of better sanitation. The heating and
ventilating system is a most vital part of a modern school. Steam heat is
supplanting hot-air furnaces. \'entilation by natural draft can be made fairly
efficient for grade schools of not more than eight rooms, but for larger builil-
ings, and all high schools, mechanical ventilation is now considered a necessity.
Automatic temperature regulation is no longer an experiment, but an essential
part of a ventilating system for schools.

The limits of this paper will not permit a discussion of the details of
heating and ventilation. Architects and engineers are in substantial agree-
ment as to the methods to be employed. However, the experiment of
open-air school rooms being tried in certain Chicago schools is worthy of
serious consideration. It seems to be demonstrated that by introducing
sufficient moisture into the air of the school room, the winter temperature
can be reduced to sixty degrees, or even less, with a marked benefit to the
health of the pupils.

Since modern plumbing has become almost universal in the homes of
the pupils, there is a tendency to make the fixtures in the school correspond
to those with which the pupils are familiar at home ; and to locate the
toilet rooms on the various class-room floors in place of concentrating the
same in the basement. In such sanitary reforms as the abolition of the
public drinking cup, our schools are abreast of the times.

The ratio of window surface to the floor area is controlled by law in
many states and there is little danger of insufficient windows in the school
rooms of today. There is danger, however, of cutting off the light by an
improper use of window shades. The object of shades in a school room
is not to make the room dark, but to screen it from the direct rays of the
sun. Therefore opaque shades should never be used. The best material
is Holland cloth of a light buff color. The sun shining upon this material
transmits a soft, mellow light. The darkest part of a room, of course, is
the side remote from the window. The light for this side must come from
the top of the window. Therefore window shades should never "be hung
at the top of a school room window. The best method of placing shades
is to hang two shades to each window, both rollers being placed at the
meeting rail of the sash, one shade to pull down and the other to pull up.

There have been great improvements in artificial lighting within the
past few years. But, as school work is conducted mostly in the day time,
the question of artificial lighting is not important, except in special cases.

The greater specialization of present methods of teaching and the
addition of laboratory work in the schools, have led to the provision of
special rooms. High schools, especially, have developed into complex
structures. A well equipped high school will include an assembly hall, a
library, and perhaps a museum, a gymnasium and laboratories for chemistry,
physics and biology: shops for manual training; a kitchen for domestic
science, with a model dining room; perliaps a room for sewing; a commercial
room; drawing rooms for mechanical and free hand drawing; modeling
rooms, with perhaps a kiln for burning pottery. One recent high school


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78 The Architect and Eiii^iiieer

has an elementary science room, and special rooms for the study of the
classic languages and English. The "Classic Room" designed and furnished
in the Roman style, and the "English Room" in the English style, with a red
quarry tile floor, brick fireplace, oak beamed ceiling and stained glass
windows. A large sliding partition between the rooms permits uniting the
two into a club room for the use of student societies. The intention of these
rooms is to stimulate interest in these special studies by appropriate sur-
roundings, and thus compete with the highly specialized science equipments.

Gymnasiums which were formerly placed only in large city high schools,
are now becoming an essential part of every complete high school, and are
being extended to the. grade schools.

Xo one, who has observed school buildings of recent years, can have
failed to notice an improvement in the character of the designs. This im-
provement is due partly to general advance in the quality of .-American arch-
itecture, but perhaps still more to the improvement in the quality of school
boards, and their appreciation of good architecture. This leads to the selection
of a higher grade of architects. Another tendency that makes for the improve-
ment of school building, is the abandonment of the evil practice of having
architects submit designs in competition. This practice has almost passed
away, and architects are selected as a superintendent of schools would select
his teachers, on the basis of their record in work already completed.

An examination of recent designs of school buildings, by many architects,
and in all parts of the country, shows a tendency to greater individuality of
design and a following of no particular architectural style. The best school
design is that wliich follows no historical style of architecture, but is develop-
ed rationally from the conditions of the problem. For example, the large
window area necessary in a classroom necessitates the use of very narrow
piers between the windows. There is thus developed the idea of making the
windows of each classroom into a group. If such window grouping is adopted,
a style of design must be used that will lend itself to such treatment.

What is true of schools, holds good for all buildings. Everv new tvpe of
building requires the development of a -new style of architecture, or at least
the modification of some old style. The breaking away from historic styles
of architecture, and the evolution of new forms of desig^i to meet new con-
ditions in school buildings is one of the hopeful signs in present work.

The past ten years have seen rapid changes in building materials, .\rch-
itectural design is affected not only by the purpose of the building, but by
the material used. It is an axiom of architecture that no material should be
used in imitation of another, but each material should be treated in accordance
with its nature. Therefore the introduction of new materials, diflfering'in
nature from those formerly used, calls for new forms of design.

E.xterior plastering in Portland cement has largely taken the place of
wood as a covering for wood construction. Such a construction of wood
frame, covered with plaster, is appropriate only for very small schools. .-Xt
the present time, a construction is developing of hollow tile for walls, with a
ribbed surface to receive plaster directly on the tile, both exterior and interior.

Exterior plastering has been introduced by architects as something better
than wood siding or shingles, and. as a rule, this material has been handled
in a truthful and artistic manner, in accordance with its nature. It is used as
plaster, not in imitation of any other material.

In contrast to this, cement blocks have been invented as something cheap-
er than stone, and are usually made in imitation of stone. .\s an imitation,
tliov arc a fraud, and are not good art. Cement blocks can bo made in a truth-

The Archilcct ami F.ii^iiu-i-r 79

ful and artistic manner, but their lar_u;e ami uniform size makes tliem a poor
material from the point of view of design.

Concrete, poured in place, can have a satisfactory treatment of the surface,
but such treatment is expensive and this material is better adajHcd to con-
structive than decorative forms.

Of all new materials, vitrified brick seems the best adapted for general
use in school building. This material has brought about such a complete
revolution in our ideas of what brick should be, that I venture to expand
somewhat in description of the new idea in brick. The old- idea was mechan-
ical perfection. The attention was concentrated on the individual brick rather
than on the wall. We sought brick, with smooth surfaces, straight edges and
uniform color. They were laid with fine joints. When the utmost perfection
was attained in this direction, what did we have^ A wall without force or
character. The best brick wall seemed inferior to the meanest stone wall. We
never escaped from the pettiness of the material. The soot of our cities stained
the surface and the alkali came out of the wall whenever the water penetrated
the porous brick.

Now we no longer think of bricks, but of brickwork. We seek a wall
surface of varied colors, and a marked texture. We want a material that will
appear as solid as stone and will be washed clean by every rain. We prefer
large joints that bespeak strength rather than fine joints, whose noblest
quality is neatness. We think of a wall of a building, as we look upon the
walls of the Rocky Mountain canyons. The rocks were built up by nature,
layer by layer, and the marks of stratification are apparent ; but we do not
dwell upon the smallness of the layers, hut upon the massiveness of the rock.
So with our wall of brick, it is b.uilt course by course. But when made of
materials, vitrified by fire, and "boimd into one mass by cement, we lose sight
of the individual bricks and see the wall which rivals stone in durability and
massiveness and exceeds it in its capacity for color.

The latest improvement in the manufacture of brick is to roughen the
surface of the stiff mud, as it comes from the machine, by cutting with wire,
thus producing a variety of beautiful textures, according to the nature of the

\'!trified brick is so different in character from the smooth and porous
pressed brick that it is leading to the development of new styles of archi-
tectural treatment.

One of the most important movements in architectural circles has not as
yet affected school buildings as it should.

I refer to the grouping of buildings and the treatment of the grounds as
an integral part of architectural design. It is not often that public school
buildings are built in groups, but even in the case of a single building, the
location should be considered in reference to surrounding buildings, and all
schools that have open grounds around them should have grounds
designed with as much care as is bestowed upon the building itself. Some
architects have given study to this subject and can make designs for land-
scape accessories but in most esses it is better to employ a landscape archi-
tect, who should be selected by the architect of the building and work in
consultation with him.

In conclusion, I offer a suggestion to any one contemplating building,
that if you would get the best services from vour architect, call him into con-
sultation at the very beginning of your building enterprise, even before the
site has been selected, or the bonds voted.


The Architect and Ens^ineer


Tlic '.Irchilcct and Engineer 81

Artificial Caen Stone in the Oakland City Hall


AKTII-'ICIAL caen stone as used in the main vestilinle, rutniida, ouun-
cil chamber and adjoining corridors of the Oakland City Mail is the
result of the local development of a New York specification. 'l"hc
orig;inal intention of the architects was that the material should be im-
ported, ready mixed, and applied by eastern workmen experienced in its
use. Before proceeding on this basis, however, the contractor obtained
permission to submit samples of his own manufacture, and the finished
result of the experiments is an imitation stone quite equal, if not superior,
to the product originally specified. New refinements in tooling and vary-
ing the shade of the stone make the work in the Oakland city hall probably
the best example of artificial caen stone work on a large scale, ever exe-
cuted. In consequence, the architectural profession of the Pacific coast
is now richer in possibilities for the expression of their ideas without
overburdening their clients financially.

The most successful foundation for the stone proved to be a scratch
and brown coat of good hard-wall plaster. The brown coat should con-
sist of equal parts of clean sand and well fibred hard-wall, and should
be rodded or run accurately to within a quarter inch of the finished stone
surface. The brown coat should be dry before applying the stone.

The artificial caen stone as used in the Oakland city hall consists of:
5 parts plastering Keene's cement; 5 parts Manti Utah stone; 3 parts
"yellow" stone; 1 to 2 parts of a mixture of white and gray Portland

The Manti stone and yellow stone are ground to pass a mesh 20 to the
inch. The yellow stone might be described as yellow limestone, and is
obtained in southern California. Its purpose is to counteract the whiteness
of the Keene's cement. The Portland cement should not exceed three
parts to thirteen parts of the other material, otherwise the finished stone
is too hard to tool. The mixture of white and gray Portland cement was
varied to produce three shades of finished stone, contrasting very slightly
in tone. The materials were mixed dry in a machine to produce an abso-
lutely uniform product.

In applying the stone the joints were first laid out accurately in chalk
and about thirty per cent of the "stones" marked for varying shades, half
of these being of the lightest shade and half of the medium. The darkest
shade was used as the general or ground color. The realism of the final
effect depends in a great measure on the combinations of the varying
stones. These were determined by a careful study of existing buildings
and plotted on a scale detail. After a few weeks' work, the journeyman
who did the la3'ing out was able to take care of the variations success-
fully without specific instructions.

In applying the quarter-inch finishing coat cither the light or medium
color went on first. The brown coat must be thoroughly wet down to
eliminate any possibility of accumulated dust hurting the bond of the
finished coat, which should be vigorously worked and floated. When
the first shade in the section being finished was all on, the edges of the

• Mr. Ashley is Superintendent of Construction of the Oakland City Hall and is the personal repre-
sentative of the architects, Messrs. Palmer, Hornbostel and Jones, of New York City. Owing to the
signal success of the use of artificial caen stone in this building, and the many inquiries received regard-
ing the composition and use of the material, Mr. Ashley was invited to contribute an article on the
subject. The work was executed by Mr. A. Knowles of San Francisco.— Editor.


The Architect and En:;tiieer

Palmer. Horahoslel & lones. Architfcls

The An-lulrcl and lin-iiu





The An-hilcct and Eni^inccr


The Archilcct and Iliiijinccr

Palmer, Hornbostel Sr Jones, . Architects

86 TItc Architect and Ent^iiiccr

work were trimmed up and the second shade applied in the same way.
This was followed by the ground color. Care must be taken to preserve
marks to indicate the locations of joints for later reference. It was found
most successful to work the men in pairs and to apply the work in sections
no larger than could be finish coated in half a day.

When the work was bone dry the whole surface was "dragged" over
with a coarse hack saw blade, or similar tool mounted on a handle. This
tool removes the float skin and provides the ground effect of the stone
work. The tooling should be done with long, vertical strokes, each stroke
going from joint to joint of a "stone course". In general the coarser this
tooling is the more interesting will be the final texture of the stone, also
the more difficult will be the operation of tooling. After the stone was
dragged, it was slightly sanded with No. 00 paper. This was followed
by scraping a recessed "margin draught" seven-eighths of an inch on
either side of the joints. The margin draft is a plain surface produced
with a scraper, guided by a rod. It is sunk below the deepest tool marks
of the saw blade. This was followed by cutting the joints, three-si.x-
teenths inch wide, clear through the finish to the brown coat, with an
imported caen stone jointing tool. The joints were pointed with a mortar
which dried a light cement gray, contrasting with the varying shades
of buff of the stone.

It is not practicable to vary the colors of a run moulding so that the
medium shade of stone was chosen for this work. The play of light
produced by the mouldings makes a variation of shade unnecessary. Orna-
mental work was cast exactly as cement plaster is cast, in painted glue
moulds. The same composition of stone was used here as for plain work.
After setting the ornament, it was lightly tooled and sanded to remove
the casting skin and liven up the surface. Where the ornament was so
intricate and fine as to make tooling impracticable, a wash of stone com-
position was brushed on. As casting tends to produce light shades, a
dark mixture was used for this work.

It will be noted that no coloring matter was used other than the
natural stones and cements. Effects are surest by following this method
of controlling color. It is possible to use some colors in powdered form,
but in using them there is always the danger of cloudiness on account
of the irregular way in which powdered colors float up, producing the
effect of plaster instead of stone.

The finished product, made as described above, with careful atten-
tion to all the details, will well repay the effort it takes. It is an abso-
lute fact that contractors and stone masons used to dealing with caen
stone and lime stone have taken the work in the Oakland city hall to be
-cut stone. In durability it is superior to Manti and similar soft building
stones. In case of accidents to arrisses and sharp mouldings repairs are
easily made and are invisible when finished.

Regardless of cost, in a country subject to earthquakes, artificial stone
like this is preferable to quarry stone, even considering the ethics of art
involved in the use of an imitation material, In regard to the cost of
artificial caen stone, naturally, it will vary greatly in proportion to the
percentages of stones differing from the ground color in shade, amount
of ornament and run mouldings, proportion of curved surfaces, difficulty
in laying out stereotomy, number of joints, etc. .\s a rough guide, an
estimator would be justified in figuring work like that in the Oakland city hall
at from thirty to fifty cents a square foot.

The .Irchitcct and lingiiiccr 87

How Can an Architect Get New Business?

By CHARLKS E. VVHITK. in Building Pnigrcss

NO MATTER how well trained an architect may be ; no matter how clever,
how energetic or how efficient he is, he will not get very far without oppor-
tunities. A man's brains may teem with idea's. He may be saturated with
knowledge which would be of utmost value to his clients but his skill avails him
nothing if he has no chance to put it into practice — in other words if he has
no "jobs."

An architect may begin his practice with suburban and end it with
public buildings. His work might grow from a small beginning, rapidly evolv-
ing into something tremendous until finally it is nation-wide in scope, but every
step in the link' of evolution represents a "job." If the architect had lacked his
first commission, or if his first commission had not brought him others his
career would have been nipped in the bud and no amount of higher education,
skill or general fitness for his profession could have brought him success.

"Success" of course, is capable of many different interpretations. Success
as an artist is not contingent upon huge building operations. An architect can
just as well show his mettle and prove his right to be termed "artist" by design-
ing a $2000 cottage as he can by designing a public building. If a man is a
true artist the artist touch can be discerned in his smaller as well as larger work.
But the world has come to set a certain value on success which carries with it
recognition for big things. Comparing two architects, he who has executed
important work ranks (in the eyes of his fellow citizens, at any rate) higher
than he whose practice has been confined to smaller buildings, and those but few.

And it isn't merely the architect's executed work that helps to make or
unmake his reputation. The appearance of his office, the efficiency of his draft.s-
men, yes, even the looks of his desk have their effect. A slackly kept desk with
papers disarranged helter-skelter makes an unfavorable impression upon busi-
ness men, most of whom believe in order in all things.

A painter can win recognition by merely exhibiting his canvases upon the
walls of a gallery. The poor, struggling architect, however, must actually build
his designs before he can hope to win that place in his profession to which ( he
believes) education and skill entitle him. No matter how fine his drawings may
be he will be judged by his executed work.

So to get right down to plain, every-day English, our young practitioner
must have clients — he must get "jobs."

Now job getting is very repugnant to most architects, modest fellows many
of them, entirely unfitted by education or inclination to go out after work in
the same commercial way that a traveling salesman sells goods, .\rchitecture
is a profession. Doctors don't go out after business. Lawyers, we are told,
consider it unethical to ask for jobs. .\re Medical and Law professions requir-
ing greater dignity in their disciples than Architecture?

To find the happy medium in trying to attract opportimities to oneself is
quite a problem. Shall one sit quietly by and wait for opportunities to arrive

Online LibraryThomas Babington Macaulay MacaulayThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.38 (Aug.-Oct. 1914)) → online text (page 5 of 40)