Copyright
Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay.

The Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.46-47 (July-Dec. 1916)) online

. (page 3 of 52)
Online LibraryThomas Babington Macaulay MacaulayThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.46-47 (July-Dec. 1916)) → online text (page 3 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


patriotic statuary, a few good streets and several good buildings rather
than a city dignified, orderly and beautiful as a whole.

Now a comprehensive city plan is nothing more than a program of
procedure. Technically it is the art or science of planning the develop-
ment of a city in a systematic and orderly way.

As individuals you never think of doing a number of things without
a first thought-out program. You live and exist by the fundamental
laws and program of the Almighty God. Transgression means prema-
ture decay and death. You sleep, you spend the "waking hours of the
day, you dress, you eat, you shop, you' build your house by an outlined
program, and in the conduct of your business you follow a program —
written or mental, and depending upon the thoroughness and wisdom of
that program is your financial success.

Now collectively, what? Is there not a greater necessity and resjionsi-
bility to your fellow associates? The various corporations of the country
are founded upon a program of procedure, and depending upon the
efficiency of their programs do they flourish or fail. Efficiency is the
cry of the day, and it marks the difference progressively between the
village blacksmith and the great steel corporations, the ox cart and the
transcontinental railroads.

Now here we are a corporation, 600,000 strong, with a gx)od political
organization — with a corps of able e.xecutive officers and servants, but
where are we going? Our progress reminds me of a sight I saw out here



The Architect and Engineer



91



on the way to Hollywood one morning recently. A round red-taced
bewhiskered midget of a fellow came driving ont Irom a side lane on to
tie boulevard in% rattling, dilapidated Ford I-^f <1 ;^Vl"^-'"J ^^^^^
on the nicelv paved right-hand side, he crossed over to the le t and went
bani nci along over the uncovered ties of the mbound railroad track.
On the hood of the machine was displayed a sign reading, From some-
w ere to anv where." And he surely uas on h.s way as he tumbled along.
Ind it caused me to reflect that that is about typical of Los Angeles

constructive policy. . . , ^- , r\, -

There is no large or united program ot progressive construction Uu.
constructive policv, if we have one at all. is nnguided. and it allows a
wide scope for the poor taste of untrained individualism. W e are dntting
Tlon- to the goal of lost opportunities. And as the city continues to
erow larger and the resources increase, the public works become more
fpectacnlar and permanent, so that mistakes in these ast a long time
SSd are striking examples of folly. The need of artistic guidance, both
fn pt'blic and private work, is more keenly felt, the extravagance and
wastefulness of duplicated effort are realized ; the value of an authorit.ve
Testhetic control is perceived, and it is appreciated that to make any trtie
ad4nce in civic art there is needed something more than means and
'mmdse Civic art is as ancient as all the arts, but it is distinguished
from the others by its contentment to be servant, not mistress in the
glo fyng of cities. In spite of certain enlightenment the impression
f ,11 prevails that art is an effeminate luxury, a token of decadent aris-
oca?y! a veneer costly and unnecessary. We are still prone to pride our-
selves over-much on being plain citizens, mistaking crudity for simplicity
and io-norance for logic. What is any art but the right, best way of
doine'a certain thing? The art which is so utilitarian in its purpose as
to bf CIV c firs andlirt afterwards may be defined then as taking in just
the right way of those steps necessary or proper for the com ort of its
citlzens-as the doing of the necessary or proper thing in the right way.

So civic art is not a fad, it is not merely a bit of aestheticsm. There is
nothing effeminate and sentimental about it ; it is vigorous, virile and
sane Altruism is its impulse, but it is older than any altruism ot the
hour— as old as the dreams and aspirations of man.

Cities are not made to be looked at but to be lived in, and it m the
decoration of them there be any forgetfulness of that, no successful cn.c
art will follow and the effort will defeat itselt.

The council, which on first thought might be considered the directors
of the city's grmvth. is only an executive body. 1 he venous departments
h to whose duties enter construction of any kind, for the most part, carry
out that construction generally as public needs most }-g<^"tly demaiKl
Those demands, by interested citizens, are made through the council and
as our executive body, they are so ordered.

Fach improvement is generally made without consideration o any

other department or features that may have a bearing upon the .ibject.

The old saving. "Too many cooks spoil the broth." is very applicable

''''^!:rZ::£t:n.. idea of improvement or of a new building is
advanced Some of these are carried through as was the Southern Pacihc
s ati^n more re^entlv. That matter of a new City Hall has been brought up
three different times. I believe, if not more. At another time the issue
mir be voted shot Id it be so and we have no studied, comprehensive



92 Tlic Archiicct ami Engineer

plan. Villi can well inianinc what will hap])en. Have we not a sui"ficient
ntiniber of errors in this city at the jiresent time t<j be no flatter\' to our
taste or intelligence?

lught years ago or thereabout, there was made a very good beginning
toward preparing a city plan, but mind }ou, those were suggestions only,
made hastily in a few days. The seed was planted, but like the orphan
of the slums, it has been neglected and has not had a healthy growth.
May be it is just as well for today we are able to profit more greatl}- by
the experience of other cities and examples that have been set before us.
A\'ith a larger and broader vision we can approach the problem now.

^^'e have the city of Washington before us. Shall we be blind to that
example? And here in our own state there are the e.xamples nf the San
Francisco and San Diego expositions. What would these fairs have
amounted to if each group of persons, having a building to erect, had placed
them wherever their fancy pleased without regard to position, height
or St vie of the others? Are we so stupid and ignorant as not to recognize
the orderliness and simplicity of their plans? Is not the city of Los .\ngeles
more important than any temporary exposition?

Is not the idea of a comprehensive plan one of plain, common sense, of
concrete ef^ciency? Is there anything very unreasonable in the idea, too
visionary or impracticable? Is it not a sound business proposition that
we should give immediate attention to?

Now what are our needs and possiljle requirements for the next few
years? Are they not a city hall, a library, a state building, county build-
ings, hospitals, railroad stations, transcontinental and local, subways with
surface stations, schools, fire stations, convention halls, with clubs and
hotels of semi-public character?

To the buildings which would go to constitute the architectural ele-
ments of an administrative center there ought to be given not merely a
central location which will be invited by consideration of con\-enience
even more strongly than those of sentiment, but all the additional emphasis
and conspicuousness that site can offer.

No other structures are so appropriately entitled to the best position
that the city can afford, convenience and appearance being jointly con-
sidered as those that olificially stand for the city. And not only do these
structures belong together, but each gains and is enhanced from proximity
of the other.

They make for better efficiency, orderliness and economy, and aesthet-
ically are more impressive.

And is it not essential and time that we looked to the front doors of
our city? Are they any better than back doors at the present time?

Since it is said that the tourist trade is a large factor in the financial
success of our city, wouldn't it be gtiod, common-sense and business
sagacity to make them orderly, clean and attractive?

A comprehensive city plan will include many features of the city's work
Init these mentioned seem to be suf^cient of importance to call for definite
action.

Here is our opportunity, the right, cc minion-sense. business-like thing
to do — to create, revise and adopt a tentative, comprehensi\e ])lan for
the physical development of the city, making it a correlation of the
]dans for streets, parks, playgrounds, transit, railroad terminals, grouping
of public buildings, markets, etc., that will be needed and built as time goes
on. Let us have a comprehensive plan that will g'et us .somewhere, instead



The Architect and Engineer 93

of following a haphazard policy or rather no policy at all. The plan once
secured, public spirit and artistic sense of the coniniunity can hardly
fail to insist that it be adhered to.

The pride that enables a man to proclaim himself a citizen of no mean
city awakens in his heart high desires that before had been dormant.

The studv and preparation of a comprehensive plan will be for the
benefit of all' of us, therefore it is a task to be borne by all of us, the
city. To accomplish it there must be a commission or department formed
as a unit of the city government. Provisions for the establishment of such
are already made by the city and state laws.

Such a commission, which should be composed of architects, engineers,
and those technicallv trained, with broadest ideas and conceptions, will
have to serve without pay, but services of a secretary, possibly expert
advice and of a number of' draughtsmen will have to be cared for. But it
is constructive work, means for economy and is vitally essential to our
needs.

\t the present time the Citv Planning Association and the City Plan-
ning Committees of the [Municipal League, the City Club, the Architects
and^Engineers Societv and this Chapter are combining their efforts toward
securing the formation of this department as a unit of the city's govern-
ment ^■arious phases of the subject are requiring much study but rapid
progress is being made, and we hope that substantial results will be ob-
taiiied if the idea is thought proper, wise and needed.

Allows me in closing to read you these lines from a magazine of recent
issue ; the thought is appropriate :

I LIVE HERE
By Strickland GilHlan

A cjarden, a perfect mosaic, deep green 'gainst the blackest of loam,
Spread out near a little log cabin— but immaculate home!

I paused to admire— who could help it?^- the weedless expanse near the door.
Where, pleased with my pleasured inspection, stood a "mammy ' of years that
are yore.

••\ beautiful garden," I ventured. She cupped a brown hand to her ear.
-Fine garden!" I shouted. "Oh, sholy! It ought to be fine— I live here!"

I went on my way with a sermon as great as I ever had heard.

The highest paid preacher existent could never have added a word.

\\'ere every human who cumbers the tiniest spot of the earth
To see that the place he inhabits— the work brain or fingers give birth-
Stood perfect as e'er he could make it— dear God! what a different sphere!^
Let's borrow our motto from "Mammy": "It ought to be fine— I live here!"



It Would Be a Big Apple

To test the intelligence of a witness in a contractor's suit, said the
Washington Star, a judge que^ioning him regarding the definition of a
cubic vard, said to him : "Witness, look at this apple on my desk. Xow,
assume this apple to be three feet across the top, three feet through the
middle here and three feet up and down — what \vould you call it?"

"Well, judge, your honor," said the witness, 'Td call it some apple."



94 The ArchitiCt and Eiii^^inccr

Protecting The Owner and Architect

AXSWERIXr; an article in the Cnntract Record nf April l'>th, written
by G. Alexander ^^'rig■ht, a San I'rancisco architect, entitled "Bids
Bidders, and Bidding," Sidney \V. Band, assistant manager of the
United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., writes as follows :

As I feel that a word from the standpoint of the Bonding Company miifht he
apropos, I take this opportunity of replying- to the invitation extended by Sir. \\right.

Summing up Mr. Wright's article, as I see it. a responsible contractor, and by
responsible contractor I mean a contractor who is competent and capable of handl-
ing any contract he tenders for, "inasmuch as his figures will be carefully compiled
and allowances made for a fair profit on the contract," hesitates to bid because he
is competing with irresponsible contractors who are inexperienced and who there-
fore do not figure as carefully or as conscientiously, their main idea being to
secure the contract with the hope that they may lie able to complete the contract
profitably. To be explicit: they have everything to gain and nothing to lose for the
price they submit.

The question therefore resolves itself into how can the owner and architect pro-
tect themselves against the tendering of irresponsible contractors without exper-
ience and without sufficient financial standing to back up their tender.

The answer is simple. You have at your disposal a cpiick remedy, by inserting
in your specifications the following clause —

The Contractor shall furnish with his tender the consent in writing of a guaranty company
authorized to do business in Canada, to issue a contract bond on his behalf, guaranteeing the faithful
performance of the contract in an amount equal to 20 per cent, of the amount of the contract, and
contractors proposing to tender will make immediate arrangements with their guaranty company for
such bond, as the companies require sufficient time to complete inquiries.

This will compel every contractor tendering on the work, obtaining a bond from
some guaranty companj', who is prepared to back up his tender by their financial
resources, guaranteeing that if the contract is awarded to him he will sign the
contract and that he will carry out the contract according to the tertns and con-
ditions, plans, specifications of the contract. If this plan is adopted you eliminate the
inexperienced, irresponsible contractor, without any financial backing, from tender-
ing on the work and get down to the only class of contractor which the owner and
architect want to deal with. There are a sufficient number of responsible contractors
to still leave the question of price on a competitive basis and this arrangement
places no hardship on any contractor who can do the work. He simply arranges
with his bonding company for a bond the same way he would arrange with his
banker for a line of credit. It relieves the architect and owner of the work of as-
certaining whether they are letting the contract to a financially responsible con-
tractor or not, and also whether he is competent in the line of work on which he
is tendering, and it does not legislate against the smaller contractor because any
contractor, be he big or little, who is responsible and bears a good reputation,
can secure credit from a guaranty company up to the amount which they consider
he has had the experience and financial responsibility that they can safely back him
up for.

In conclusion, let me add that the first protection to the owner and architect
IS the manner in which the guaranty company carefully considers every contractor's
application. Every application is dealt with separately and entirely on its own
merits. The moral, as well as the financial standing of the contractor, is taken into
consideration along with his ability in the line of work to be undertaken, and it is
only after every point is carefully considered that the bond is either accepted or
refused.

I wish to thank you for the opportunity afiforded me of putting these sugges-
tions to you and hope that they will be considered worthy of publication and trust
that you will consider that this article is written entirely from an educational
standpoint.

[This suggesticni nf .Mr. Band is deserving of consideration, we think.
If every bidder was compelled to submit a bond with his bid, many of the
"fly by night guessers" would soon have to give way to the more com-
])etent and careful bidders. Owners would be better pleased, architects
would suffer less annoyance, the building industry couhl get better prices,
better work and a better understanding all-round would result. — Ed.]



The Architect and Eiii^iiiccr 95

Are Architects Too Conservative?*

Why arc arcliitects. as a class, indifferent to iinprnvcd (lc\icc-s? Any salesman calling
on architects will confirm the statement that, collectively, arcliitects do not readily accept
new methods and materials.

Douhtless a very proper conservatism toward nntried materials is prompted by the
desire to protect clients from unsatisfactory results, lint is it not equally desirable to give
them the comforts and economies made available l)y careful investigation backed by tech-
nically trained judgment?

It is common to find a passive attitude on the part of the architect even toward proved
commodities and in numerous instances the client actually has to "sell" his architect mate-
rials with which the arcliitect has not become faiuiliar. The architect should use his tech-
nical training not only to protect his client from unworthy materials but to aid him in
selecting the best that can be obtained. — Concrete.

By FREDERICK JENNINGS

THE above article raises a question of more than ordinary interest. ^NFan-
tifactnrers, dealers, salesmen, and agents who handle bnilding trade

requisites should be vitally interested. Wishing to obtain some view-
point other than our own, we have conferred with an architect of mature
experience, not only in regard to this particular question, but touching
also the relations of the architect with the drummer, canvasser, or whatever
the correct title of the representative or salesman may happen to be. As
one result of this conference our viewpoint, which has always leaned
if anything in favor of the salesmen's methods, has undergone somewhat
of a change, and we are now inclined to believe that architects can, if they
will, throw the spotlight of enquiry upon his activities with advantage.
Architects may have something to say on these subjects and we shall be
glad to have their views.

"Are architects too conservative?" Possibly architects are conserv-
ative, and they need to be, for it was never so hard to keep gold bricks
from being forced into the construction of buildings as it is today, at, of
course, the expense of the "client." The already overworked "bogey"
safety first is partly responsible for some of this. The experienced architect,
the one who has something to lose, tisually prefers to be sure first, rather than
sorry afterwards. These perhaps might be termed the conservative ones, but
are they to be condennied when they are spending a client's money? Many of
these men, however, notwithstanding their conservatism, are apt to listen, and
to be over-considerate to the ever-increasing army of building material sales-
men who, to speak plainly, seem to delight in pestering the life out of the busy
architect, morning, noon and night, in season and out of season, at his office,
his club, on the street corners, in the Builders' Exchanges, anywhere, every-
where. Yea, even his home circle and telephone has no sacredness with some
of these unsolicited solicitors. .\re architects really too conservative?

If manufacturers and dealers could be made to see how much business
they lose every year through their representatives antagonizing architects with
their unwise persistence, some expense accounts would soon be eliminated
from the firms' overheads. And, what a relief to the architects' offices !

A better theme for profitable discussion might be "Are salesmen too per-
sistent?" If they are, the remedy is obvious. The architect might steal some
of the salesman's commonest thunder, and offer to show the manufacturer or
dealer himself how he could "save money" by keeping his salesman at home
until he was sent for. Then his call would be welcomed, and there would be
a good "prospect" created, which is not always the case now. One of these
gentlemen was heard to say recently. "I call upon every architect in this city
at least once a week" ! but innnediately afterwards upon being asked if he was
doing much business he said, "Xo! I am not doing anything." Is this not an
object lesson ? Is the game worth the candle ?

•Further discussion of this subject is invited from the salesman's viewpoint.— Ed.



96 The Architect and Engineer

Experienced architects are not devoid (if some intelligence or even common
sense concerning materials they may wish to use in certain situations, or their
application, and they usually know where and how to get them. This is
something it takes salesmen a long time to learn. Architects have, and prefer,
their own way of getting posted about new or meritorious materials and
methods, and are not dependent upon salesmen for this information. ■ Busy
architects also subscribe to the architectural and building magazines as much, the
writer believes, to keep in touch with such matters, as for any other reason.
Sometimes it happens that an architect knows about a certain thing or process
before even the local dealer gets the agency for it. We know of architects
who studiously read the advertising pages of the best architectural magazines
of the country, and they acquire a respect and interest in these silent salesmen
' that they can scarcely ever extend to the noisy kind who are ever ready to
gamble with figures, or to promise anything (the "moon" if necessary) so
long as they get their material specified, and the house afterwards gets a chance
to soak the unfortunate contractor whom they are apt to think is now com-
pelled to use th(?ir product.

Some salesmen act as though an architect has nothing else to do but to
await their coming with the glad hand. Then there is the aggressive indi-
vidual who sees the client first, and not appreciating the fact that he was "let
down easy," appears before the architect with a cocksure air, and the state-
ment that Mr. So and So (the client) had sent hint to explain his line of
goods, and so on ad fiuitnm. This gentleman is well known among archi-
tects, he is everywhere, but whether such tactics get business for his "house,"
that is doubtful ! .\nd there are other types, who queer themselves
quickly by betting and guaranteeing (verbally) all they have (much or little)
in support of their particular article, or all of them — it is just as easy for them.
So much, then, for the "art" or the "science" of twentieth century salesman-
ship. .\nd then comes the catalogue salesman ! Tlie one who repeats his little
well-learned story like a parrot, but if in the middle of it he is asked a practical
question by the architect about his material or its application, he is usually
floored, but will obligingly "take it up with his house." This is a common in-
cident. But why are such men sent unsolicited to architects? Are the latter
considered so easy? One would not be surprised to learn that the above great
and momentous question, "Are architects too conservative?" originated with
one of these over-zealous knights of the road.

But some one will say, "These men must live !" \'ery true. So must archi-
tects, and to do so, the latter must work. The former enjoy a certain unalien-
able right, of course, to pursue happiness, but not architects! — who in self-
defense often have to be foxy and hide, when very busy, whilst the agile sales-
man is perhaps holding down a claim in the waiting lobby outside. Some .sales-
men may be surprised to learn that some architects, sometimes, have ideas of
their own. and that it takes time, and study, to work them out.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of untried new materials and things
turned out every year which are expected to take the place of standard goods,
but they never do ; they are simply good talking propositions and they fade
away and disa]ipear, but, like the weeds on a farm, there is always another
crop coming, and here, lest wc forget, it might not be inap]ir()]iriate to ask again
"Are architects too conservative?"

It is a fact, as before suggested, that progressive and ever-conservative
architects are apt to entirely pass over the house whose representative has
made himself a nuisance, and they will turn to a more conservative and equally
good dealer, or what is even more likely still, to the advertising pages of their
favorite architectural magazine to find what they want.



Tlic Architect and Engineer 97



Online LibraryThomas Babington Macaulay MacaulayThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.46-47 (July-Dec. 1916)) → online text (page 3 of 52)