That’s the last of my Providence photos and it’s quite the cliché: it’s the view from my hotel room window. On the lower left is the Tilden-Thurber Building. What strikes me about this picture is how obviously American the view is. Nearly all of the buildings visible are over one hundred years, which makes them …

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Subtly Unplain

Yesterday, I mentioned mill-style architecture in Providence. Here’s an example. I suspect that the first floor is cast iron, but it could be steel with architectural sheathing. But buildings like this are, architecturally, all about the brick. As plain as this building is, there’s still a lot going on here. A short description of the …

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I don’t know Providence well enough to talk about the character of the city. Like a lot of small cities in the northeast, it’s had to move from manufacturing to a service economy, a transition that has probably been eased by the presence of several large educational institutions. A good percentage of the buildings downtown …

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Mass Production and Beauty

There are long treatises on the topic of the aesthetics of the machine age, starting in the nineteenth century and working their way up to the present. That topic includes everything from the precisionists to steampunk. Great stuff, but not what I want to talk about. The machine-made mass production of architectural elements in the …

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