Thursday, April 15, 2010

Field Trip: Annapolis, Maryland

In 1957-58, Austrian-born architect Richard Neutra (1892-1970) designed the 99,000-square-foot Mellon Hall and Frances Scott Keys Auditorium at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. Although St. John's College and surrounding Annapolis are permeated with colonial-era architecture, Richard Weigle, then St. John's College president, wanted a structure that embodied the very finest in modern architecture. Neutra offered the services of his California-based firm Neutra + Alexander for less than its normal fee. He conducted research on campus by soliciting input from faculty and students, studying the school's classic-books curriculum and attending its Socratic method classes.

The building was renowned in its day for its environmentally-conscious motor-operated aluminum louvers that could control incoming natural light according to external conditions.

In 2002, the Great Books college completed a $12.9 restoration project on the structure.

In other Neutra news, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has halted the National Park Service's plans to demolish Neutra + Alexander's 1961 Cyclorama Building. Read more here.

Images above: Richard Neutra, architect. Courtyard of Mellon Hall, St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland. Completed 1959. As photographed 10 April 2010 by K. Rylance.

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