Barcelona Plaça de Catalunya design

Unbuilt Barcelona

By the middle of the nineteenth century, Barcelona was bursting at the seams. The city hadn’t expanded beyond its medieval walls, but its population had grown almost 50 percent between 1800 and 1850. The congestion was contributing to outbreaks of disease. There was clearly a need for expansion, but it wasn’t until 1853 that the central government in Madrid allowed Barcelona to tear down its walls.

Two expansion plans were introduced, one by Antoni Rovira i Trias, which was favored by the Barcelona city council, and another by Ildefonso Cerdá, which was favored by Madrid. Neither was implemented in full, but Cerdá’s, with its distinctive hexagonal blocks, proved by far the most influential.

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Casa Amatller Casa Batlló Barcelona Spain

Modernista Architecture in Barcelona

Modernisme is the Catalan version of Art Nouveau. Its popularity coincided with the late-nineteenth-century expansion of Barcelona, which more than doubled the city in size. Walk around the Eixample district, which rings the historical city center, and you’ll find countless examples of this organic architectural style that is rich in decoration and incorporates Arab and Gothic elements.

Some, like Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Família and Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Hospital de Sant Pau, are well known. Others you would probably pass by if you didn’t know where to look.

What follows is only a selection. The best way to explore Barcelona’s Modernista architecture is to take a day to roam Eixample and give yourself time to gaze at the many beautiful buildings here.

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Pereira and Luckman LAX Terminal design

Unbuilt Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a dieselpunk’s delight with its collection of Art Deco architecture, ranging from its famous City Hall to the Art Nouveau-ish Bullocks Wilshire to the iconic Eastern Columbia Building to the heavyset headquarters of the Los Angeles Times.

If it had been up to the following architects, though, the city would have been turned into a theme park of postwar, Atomic Age architecture as well.

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Château Laurier Ottawa Canada

The Grandest of Canada’s Railway Hotels

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Canada’s railway companies built grand hotels along the routes of the country’s burgeoning rail network. Many of these hotels were built in French château- and Scottish baronial-inspired styles, rich in dormers, towers and turrets.

When air travel started to compete with the railways in the second half of the twentieth century, many of the hotels struggled. Some were closed and torn down. The ones that survived are now national landmarks.

Let us take you on a tour of the grandest of Canada’s railway hotels.

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The Hague Peace Palace design by Willem Kromhout

Designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague

In 1903, the American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $1.5 million (almost $40 million in today’s money) for the construction of a Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The building would become known as the Peace Palace and eventually house several international courts.

An architectural competition was held for the design. Renowned architects from around the world, including the Netherlands’ own Hendrik Petrus Berlage and Willem Kromhout, submitted ideas. France’s Louis M. Cordonnier Neo-Renaissance palace won. Continue reading “Designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague”

Berlin Germany skyline

Hitler’s Nightmare Capital of the World

When you look at the projects that the Nazi government tackled, you cannot rid yourself of the feeling that they had a grandiosity fetish.

To put it in more direct terms: Megalomania was an intrinsic feature of the system. World domination, tank-battleships like the Landkreuzer Ratte and the drastic redesign of Berlin into the capital of the world — Germania.

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