Suggestions for New Buildings.
(Sent to all the trustees of public institutions.)
We have in this State upwards of one hundred and sixty large and expensive public buildings, but scarcely any of them have any character. Nearly all of them look like warehouses or shops. The time has come in this State when we must insist on two things: First, all buildings hereafter built must be absolutely fireproof. Second, they must have more character, that is, they must have stronger exterior architectural effects. As we are always pressed for room, and as our appropriations are always small, we cannot indulge in expensive ornamentation. As a rule we cannot employ granite columns, carved capitals or expensive arches.
A thorough and careful examination of the subject, as well as an examination of the pictures of some of the most striking buildings in the world, has satisfied me that the cheapest and by all odds the most effective method of ornamentation for buildings that are to stand alone, is a kind of Tudor Gothic architecture, generally called the "English Castle style." It consists chiefly in carrying the wall above the cornice and then breaking the lines in such a manner as to produce open towers, battlements and so on. Being plain masonry, it is comparatively inexpensive and when properly treated it produces the very strongest effects. For the ordinary public buildings it should be treated in a manner as not to make it look too heavy. As there is no other style of effective ornamentation that is within our means we must insist that this style be adopted.
We have no desire whatever to interfere with the arrangement of the floor plans nor with the details in other respects, but we desire to co-operate with the trustees in each case so as to erect, at the lowest expense possible, buildings that the people of the State will be proud of.
In arranging a floor plan it is important to avoid curves and many angles, because of the expense involved in framing the steel work in such cases. Straight lines should be employed as much as possible and the plan for the steel work should be made as simple as it can possibly be made. Any complicated work of that sort or any work that requires special patterns or designs to be made at the mills not only greatly swells the expense, but is certain to produce delays and vexations.