Jack K Williams Administration Building, 1932

Jack K. Williams Administration Building, 1932

Hello! Welcome back. This week we will be discussing one of the most memorable buildings on campus: the Administration Building.

admin.jpgThe Administration Building was built in 1932 and was built to face highway six instead of the rest of the buildings which were situated to face the railroad tracks. This is interesting because it marks a shift in importance from the train of the 19th century to the cars of the 20th (Chapman). So basically, the Administration building points to a new focus for the University.

The Administration Building is one of the more cleanly decorated buildings on campus, and is clearly in the Beaux Arts style. Let’s look at a few of the memorable details of the facade.

It has many of the neoclassical details we have seen before, like rusticated masonry and ionic columns, but also as a few details we have not discussed or seen in other buildings like acroteria and tripartite design.

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Here is a list of the Beaux Arts details found in the Administration building:

  1. Ionic colonnade
  2. Entablature
  3. Projecting cornice
  4. Tripartite design
  5. Rusticated masonry
  6. Polychromy
  7. Ionic pilasters
  8. Acroteria
  9. Brackets
  10. Scrollwork
  11. Garlands
  12. Cartouches
  13. Swags
  14. Dentils

 

Due to the fact that we have already discussed ionic columns in the Nagle Hall post, we won’t go into depth on the columns themselves, but the Administration Building is the first building we have seen to include a colonnade as opposed to a few separate columns.

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A colonnade is basically several columns in a row that hold up the entablature, and in the case of the Administration building, the colonnade is encasing a loggia, or a covered porch (LaChiusa). The Administration building’s colonnade is a two-story ionic colonnade with each of the columns surrounding a decorative basin as well as individual windows and three central doors.

If you haven’t been in the colonnade on the front side of the Administration building, I highly recommend it. While some of the paint is peeling, there are still massive columns and beautiful recessed reliefs in blue for the lights.

Moving on from the columns, we are going to discuss one of the more important details of Beaux Arts style: tripartite design. It is a detail you may have seen listed on other buildings we have covered because it is so common in the Beaux Arts era of architecture.

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Tripartite design is often described as how a classical column is laid out: there is a base, the main part of the column, and a capital. Now think of these principles in terms of building design, there is a lower section that lays out the base of the building, the main focal point of the building, and the cap of the building (“Tripartite Design”).

Tripartite design is often used to create a visual split to emphasize the horizontal space of a taller building, and is very common in Classical revivalist styles.

Looking at the Administration Building, you can clearly see the three sections. The lowest portion is made up of highly rusticated bricks and basement windows, the middle portion contains the two main floors, and the upper portion contains the highest floor.

Each section is demarcated by projecting cornices, creating a simple visual design of three sections.

There is also something interesting about the highest section of the building. It parallels a large entablature, almost as if the entire floor is a component of the entablature instead of an entire floor of the edifice.

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Next let’s look at acroteria. An acroterion is a detail we haven’t seen in any buildings we have discussed yet.

Acroteria are the decorative leaf like patterned projections that are often found on pediments or rooflines (“Acroterion”).

You can see some leaf-like acroteria along the roofline of the Administration building that contribute greatly to the memorable facade.

In between the acroteria are lion faced sculptures to represent courage, power, and strength as the building was created to house the administration of the campus.

And that is the Jack K Williams Administration building in a nutshell. The Administration building is heavily detailed as is in keeping with the Beaux Arts style, but it still retains a cleaner line than many of the buildings of the era. Next week we will be looking at a very interesting almost Art Nouveau style building, Halbouty.

 

Sources:

  1. “Tripartite Division.” CAF. Chicago Architecture Foundation, 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  2. Chapman, David L. “Reprints from the Texas Aggie.” Reprints from the Texas Aggie. Cushing Memorial Library, 1999. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
  3. LaChiusa, Chuck. “Colonnade.” Colonnade. Explore Buffalo, 2003. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
  4. “Acroterion.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
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