William S. Burroughs
This article describes an activity called “Color Walking”. The two authors, Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan, credit the author William Burroughs with the creation of the concept in order to help his students to better analyze the world around them. This added an interesting new side to the article because, while I haven’t read any of Burroughs’ works, I have been reading a lot of Jack Kerouac lately and Burroughs was a major player in the beat poet scene and plays a large part in On The Road . Kerouac even describes him as the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift“. The basic idea behind a color walk is to set aside a period of time and walk down the street looking for everything of a specific color and follow these things wherever they lead you. The things themselves could be anything; cars, clothing, buildings, etc.. to better allow participants to stay engage, the article suggest that one switch the color they’re searching for periodically when the one that they’re using becomes stale. The purpose of this article, as I interpreted it, was not to describe the activity in detail or analyze it but to give a brief description and set of instructions so that the readers can try it out for themselves. I almost saw it more as a manual than an article. The instructions given for a Color Walk are as follows:
- Give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time, no commutes, no errands, just eye time.
- Pick a color, or let a color pick you–follow the one that makes your heart go thump-thump.
- If you get lost, pick another color. If you get really lost, you’re on the right track.
As for the effectiveness of this article, I was originally a bit conflicted on the style used here. It seemed on my first read-through that the piece was lacking in depth and analysis: the authors could have elaborated more in detail on their own color walk or how this technique could be used to discover new things about an area. but after that, it occurred to me that the brevity of this article was intentional. by not stretching the passage, it appears that they were trying to leave the majority of the experience up to the interpretation of the reader. This choice adds tremendously to the ways in which a color walk can be approached and applied to the real world and, in my opinion, makes the piece much more effective. Overall, I feel that this column would be helpful for anyone looking for a new and more interpretive way to inspect the built environment or just for an interesting way to spend some free time.
These are the field notes I collected while performing my Built Environment Description at the Clay Family Cemetery in the neighborhood of Kirkwood. In this instance, I decided to use the method we learned in class of creating two columns, one for objective and one for subjective, so that I could make sure I was only including the objective features of this site in my description.
The inauguration of Jefferson Davis
Depiction of Stonewall Jackson at the first battle of Manassas
Robert E. Lee right before surrendering
This is, in my opinion, the most fascinating part of the entire mansion. These three painted-glass window panels were installed to depict the rise and fall of the confederacy. There was a lot of southern nationalism around this time in history as the southern surrender was approaching it’s 40th anniversary and several Confederate generals died right around this time. The first panel depicts the inauguration of Confederate president Jefferson Davis above and the Battle of Fort Sumter below. The second panel shows the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manassas with “Stonewall” Jackson earning his nickname. Finally, the third panel depicts Confederate General Robert E. Lee saying goodbye to his soldiers right before departing to go sign the terms of surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The level of detail of these fixtures is absolutely incredible; you can get up close and see the individual soldiers and details of their faces and uniforms. All three windows are divided by portraits of over a dozen important Confederate figures.
Window in a closet below the staircase
Finally, this last window kind of put into perspective the mindset of the architect and of Amos Giles Rhodes when this house was being designed. This window is in a small closet below the staircase and the rest of the windows and was supposed to be symbolic of taking down the Confederate Flag and storing it away in order to let go of the past while still honoring the sense of southern heritage that many southerners then and now associate with the Confederacy.
Back room on the first floor that is now used as an office
The contrast between different styles of interior decoration in the home give indication of their purpose. The grandiose front rooms (dining room, Parlor, etc.) have some paintings on the walls and ceilings or expensive wall paper and were intended to be used for entertaining guests, while this out-of-the-way back room is very sparse except for some woodwork around the door frame.
Birds-eye view of the Rhodes Center layout
Directory of stores in Rhodes Center
Another captivating chapter in the history of the Rhodes Hall came in 1937 when Atlanta’s first shopping center, Rhodes Center, was opened. It consisted of one story marble-faced store fronts running along the north, west and south perimeters of the property. In an interesting combination of private-residence-turned-government-property mixed with retail space, this is a perfect example of how the changing needs of a community affects the built environment it occupies. Today only the vacant buildings along the south side of the plot remain as a visage of the once bustling strip mall.
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The remaining south building of Rhodes Center
Vaulted Ceiling of Living Room
Painting of coastal Georgia on wall of the living room
The perimeter of the living room floor is lined with intricate patterns using woods of different shades
Stained glass above the front door
The Grand stair-case with the painted glass windows behind it.
Banister of the Grand stair-case
The first thing I noticed when walking into the house is the stained glass window above the front door bearing the overlapped letters “AGR”, the initials of Amos Giles Rhodes (which seemed slightly egotistical to me). The next thing you see after passing the threshold of the front entrance is the expansive, very open landing area/living room with exquisite woodworking on the walls and scenes from the Georgian and Floridian coast painted along the tops of the walls. The vaulted ceiling holds light bulbs in each individual square compartment which was a very novel feature for homes at the time. The room contains the large semi-circle grand staircase to the left and is topped off with a large wood burning fireplace (unique in that fact as most of the other fireplaces are coal-burning). Another impressive feature of this room is the Banister on the stair-case, which is carved into a very ornate lion with a shield displayed across it’s chest. The house had a slight antique-esque smell that is only ever authentically produced by buildings that are similar in age to this one. This smell is very much that of aging wood, something to be expected of Rhodes Hall as the interior is rife with wooden ornamentation (the most striking of which being the massive mahogany grand staircase). This earthy, postbellum atmosphere is completed by the signature creaking and protesting of the still-original floorboards as one walks across them, especially on the staircases.
Fireplace in the Parlor
Another coal-burning fireplace
Main wood-burning Fireplace
One fascinating recurring feature of this estate was the mosaic tiling around the 12 fireplaces. They all still have the original stone work and show varying degrees of age and use.
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Photo of Rhodes Hall from the intersection of Peachtree Street and South Rhodes Center
Sign Marking Rhodes Hall as Headquarters of the Georgia Trust
State of Georgia Historical Marker for Rhodes Hall
For my Interior Built Environment Description I chose the Rhodes Hall, the Late-Victorian home also known as “The Castle on Peachtree Street”. The house was built by Amos Giles Rhodes in 1904 with the fortune he amassed through his founding of the Rhodes Furniture. Rhodes decided on a Romanesque-Revival architectural style after being inspired by castles in the Rhineland during a trip to Europe, with the outer facade of the building being composed entirely of granite from Stone Mountain.
One of the first things to strike me when I saw the Rhodes Hall from the street after arriving with a few minutes to spare before my 1:00 pm tour was how out of place it looked in the modern cityscape; it’s next-door neighbor is a branch of the “EquiFax” firm with more modern office buildings and a gas station in the immediate area. It gives off an interesting “southern aristocracy” kind of atmosphere with a wrap-around porch combined with the castle architecture and courtyard style front lawn. The sounds from the exterior of the house consists mostly of the hum of traffic and pedestrians.
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Side View of Rhodes Hall
Side View of Rhodes Hall
Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society.” Metropolis Magazine. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.
“His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society” explores the issues created in the post-gender society that is currently developing. The two main theaters Tick discusses this in are workplace design (primarily with regards to restrooms) and in fashion. For workplace design, she cites the current trend of modernism which presents a primarily male-centric design as well as companies like google that are challenging this standard by implementing gender-neutral bathrooms as well as the preexisting gender segregated bathrooms so that employees don’t have to specify a gender at work. For the deterioration of traditional gender roles in fashion, she gives the example of a women’s jacket with masculine tailoring and military style and a set of makeup that is designed to be appealing to the male buyer. This piece would be helpful to anyone seeking to explore how gender norms are being challenged in the modern day in fashion and architecture.
Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating.’” The New York Times 17 Nov. 2015. NYTimes.com. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
This article, written by Emily Bazelon for The New York Times, covers the issue of integrating gendered bathrooms and cites several examples where people are trying to make that push. One example is in Texas, where a law that would prevent discrimination in the workplace on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity was rejected with a campaign that used fear to influence voters to vote against it. It also goes through two different examples of high school transgender students and their efforts to push for accommodation in the schools’ locker rooms. Bazelon helps to clarify what she means by accommodation: “‘Accommodate’ can have a compulsory aspect — it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.” This article would be useful to anyone seeking to analyze the gendered built environment and how it affects where people are allowed to go and where they are able to feel comfortable.
Kopas, Matthew Bryon David. “The Illogic of Separation: Examining Arguments About Gender-Neutral Public Bathrooms.” Thesis. N.p., 2012. digital.lib.washington.edu. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
This study examines how people who are generally unfamiliar with the debate surrounding gender equality with regards to bathrooms and the idea of a gender neutral restroom. It analyzed the different counter-arguments people presenting in their resistance to this new built environment, with the only argument left unaddressed being the argument that cited religious beliefs for the attachment to gender binary bathrooms. This study is relevant to the content of this class discussed in the session during which we analyzed the assigned reading about ending gender segregation in bathrooms. It relates to the built environment of Atlanta because while Atlanta is a relatively progressive community, it is still within the Bible Belt and religious beliefs still play a large part in how policy and law makers go about doing their jobs (as evidenced by the recent House Bill 575 and the rhetoric of Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, including phrases like “God’s country”). This article is likely intended for the proponents of policy that would require gender neutral bathrooms so that they can better understand the arguments of those who seek to oppose these measures.
Cherry, Gordon E. “The Town Planning Movement and the Late Victorian City.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 4.2 (1979): 306–319. JSTOR. Web.
This source discusses the factors that influenced the planning of late Victorian cities such as the nature of capitalism of the period. While the one flaw for my purposes is that this article is specific to Britain, it relates to my chosen Interior Built Environment of the Rhodes Hall in that it was built in this same time period, and discusses some general topics that include the Rhodes Hall like the practice of model estate building by industrialists that were able to thrive at that time. This piece also covers the influence of many German “town-expansion” plans which is is relevant since Amos Giles Rhodes was inspired by Rhineland architecture and castles to build the Rhodes Hall in the manner that he did. All of this is important to keep in mind since much of Atlanta was rebuilt after being burnt in the Civil War (i.e. the Late Victorian Era) and the Rhodes Hall is one of the primary surviving examples of this architecture in the form of an “Garden City” style estate.