October 24: Monsieur Cret

2012/10/24 § 4 Comments

On this day in 1876 Paul Philippe Cret was born.

Cret hailed from Lyon where he attended the local Ecole des Beaux-Arts before working at an atelier in Paris.  At the age of 27 he emigrated to Philadelphia where he imported the pure French system into the architecture program at U Penn, where he taught for some three decades.  He exercised a decisive influence over the development of many architects, probably most notably, Louis Kahn.

Before his death in 1945 Cret designed dozens of major projects in the US and Europe.  His weapon of choice is generally called Stripped Classicism: the early twentieth-century Neo-Classicism that tends towards broad clean surfaces, crisp volumes, and precise, forceful ornament somewhat isolated within the overall composition.  Some of the most delicious dishes in his impressive menu include the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (1926) and Rodin Museum (1926) in Philadelphia; the real Barnes Foundation (1923) in Merion PA; the Detroit Institute of Arts (1923), the Organization of American States Building (1908), Folger Shakespeare Library (1929), and the Fed (“Eccles Building” 1932) in Washington; the Indianapolis Public Library (1916) and the Château-Thierry American Monument (1930) in France (1937).

Image: The Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Clio’s)

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