Thursday, December 26, 2013

Speaking of Architecture - Symbol of Progress 2013

Some timeless thinking about design and the civic heart of a city by Bob Spillman from 1967 to round out an excellent 2013 at Spillman Farmer Architects.  Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2014 from all of us at SFA.

Features Of New Library: Make It Leader Of Design
By ROBERT A. SPILLMAN - City Center Associate Architect
The Bethlehem Globe-Times – July 15, 1967

Construction of the new Bethlehem Public Library is on schedule for dedication in early October with the entire City Center project.

Painters are busy painting the exterior columns and windows, plasterers are working on the colonnade ceilings, and glaziers are completing the glass installation, while on the interior, workers are installing flooring materials, plaster walls, acoustical ceilings and ceiling light fixtures.

A new Public Library for Bethlehem will soon be a reality.

body of article found here, small excerpt about the art below (the entire article is worth the read!)

Place For Art

By contrast, the Children's Room will feature brighter colors and smaller scale furniture, while the Bethlehem Room will have wood stacks and walnut paneling to convey a sense of restful security.

Art will be used in the Library as elsewhere throughout the Center to represent the best of both traditional and contemporary artistic expression. The sixty-foot high sculpture by Joseph Greenberg, located on the plaza and constructed of welded steel, is said to represent the fusion and integration of the nationalities comprising our citizenry.

The wall sculpture by Joseph Cantieni in the Library stair hall is intended to represent three interconnected trees of knowledge beginning in the basement with the beginnings of life and cumulating at the top with man's exploration of space.

In contrast to the rough welded reinforcing bars of weathering steel in the exterior Greenberg sculpture, the playful Centieni wall sculpture will feature bright metals, polychrome, and colorful plastic forms.

And don't be too surprised in walking through the Library to find a simple woodcut here, and etching there, and a colored lithograph elsewhere. There will be ample room for additional works of art as the City's collection grows.

Now that the Library is reaching completion it is almost impossible to visualize the City Center without it. It is the cornerstone of the composition and the balance in both mass and function to the taller government buildings on the east side of the plaza.

It has become a reality only because the citizens of Bethlehem wanted it badly enough to personally subscribe to pay over one-third of its cost. An enlightened City Government with the power of veto resting in either political party chose to respond to this need by providing one-third of the cost from tax monies and by securing the balance needed through State and Federal funds.

All that remains is for the first bright-eyed youngster to walk through the main entrance door on Oct. 11 and officially open the Library that the citizens of Bethlehem made possible.”

Brief Notes on Joseph J. Greenberg – Sculptor of “Symbol of Progress”

“Joseph J. Greenberg, the sculptor of the black granite Bear and Cub at the Philadelphia Zoo and many other public sculptures.  Mr. Greenberg, a versatile and prolific artist, produced works ranging from realistic stone carvings of animals to stylized Fiberglas figures and abstract bronzes.

Many of his public sculptures are in Philadelphia, but he said one of his favorites was the 60-foot-high welded steel Symbol of Progress he made in 1967 for the Civic Center in Bethlehem, Pa.”

NYTimes  - 1991 – AP Obituary

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