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From the middle of the nineteenth century until his death in 1894, William Walters amassed a major collection of French academic art and Oriental art. After his death, his son Henry vastly enlarged the collection, until it encompassed Western civilization from Egyptian times down to 1900. Whether it is Roman sarcophagi, medieval manuscripts, Renaissance painting and sculpture, Sevres porcelains, or rare jewelry you are looking for, the Walters has it. In 1905 Henry Walters, who maintained his father's residence at 5 West Mount Vernon Place, commissioned William Delano of the New York firm to design a gallery building which was in effect a private museum opened on occasion to the public. When Mr. Walters died in 1931, he left the gallery and the collection to the city and the people of Baltimore. It ranks with the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, the Peabody Institute, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library as one of the greatest gifts the city has ever received. The Walters Art Gallery was the first commission for its young architect, and it reflects both his brilliance and his immaturity. Mr. Delano, a relative of the Walters family, later designed the Japanese Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The interior of the building was modeled on the Palazzo Balbi in Genoa, with a two-story arcade surrounding a square courtyard. At once spirit-lifting and intimate, light , and airy, the central space is an appropriate setting for sculpture and small enough to avoid a feeling of monumentality. The stairway leading up to this space, however, is awkwardly placed, so that you run into it the moment you enter the front door, and is too steep to be gracious. The exterior, if less successful than the court, is a dignified addition to Washington Place, with a rusticated first story surmounted by a second-story wall punctuated by pilasters and smallish windows and topped by a delicate frieze. Interior gallery spaces surrounding the courtyard on two floors contain the Walter's collections of Renaissance through eighteenth-century art. The galleries are impressive-especially the second floor paintings galleries-but avoid being daunting. In the mid-1980s the James R. Grieves Associates as architect. It was highly successful, returning the interiors to pristine condition and installing up-to-date mechanical systems, the effect marred only by the paintings galleries' gaudily bright wall coverings. Mercifully they are fading with time. In 1974 the gallery added a major wing to the west on Centre Street, which attempted to be at once a completely modern structure and an appropriate partner for the older building. It has some virtues; principally that it incorporates almost twice as much gallery space as the original building (50,000 sq. ft. compared to 28,000) and has six floors compared to the original building's three, but stays on the exterior visually compatible in mass and height, with the same cornice line. In many ways, however, it is flawed; it is flawed aesthetically and as a museum building, from its forbiddingly brutalist exterior facades, its gloomy interior, its thoroughly confusing floor layouts, and its inadequate climate control, down to such off-putting details as its dungeonlike stairwells.Floor Plan (2/10/07)
Saturday was spent putting this OLD building plan from campus building services into my precious AutoCAD for my space planning project for my advanced studio class. The really tricky part was that the plan from building services isn't 100% accurate when compared with the measurements that Mark and I took of the built structure. So the biggest part of the day was finding a workable medium between the two. Exciting freaking stuff!!!
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