Rebuilding the Family Tradition.


He created homes for such notables as the Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and Whitneys, while overseeing the building of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the Brooklyn Museum, and The American Academy in Rome. By doing so, architect Stanford White (1853 – 1906), of the firm of McKim, Mead, and White, became the 19th century’s most prominent designer of buildings, and the prototype for “starchitects” of today like Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas.

In our era, though, White is more often remembered for his indulgent lifestyle and scandalous end—he was shot in the face by the husband of a young dancer with whom White had been carrying on an affair—than for his often deeply sensuous and widely sourced works.

For this and certainly other reasons, Samuel G. White, a great-grandson of Stanford and also a practicing architect, is working to deepen history’s appreciation of his famed ancestor’s work. Not only was White recently called to restore a sumptuous Hudson River estate, above, built for the Astors by his great-grandfather, that had fallen into disrepair. As well, with his writer wife, Elizabeth, and architectural photographer Jonathan Wallen, White has produced Stanford White, Architect, a lush tome that, beyond documenting his forbear’s life and output, improves our understanding of both White’s insights and his legacy.

Samuel White is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 13, at 2 pm ET.

But, first, critic and curator Alastair Gordon takes a look at architecture 180˚ from White’s classically proportioned lines, focusing on the communes, crash pads, geodesic domes, and other folk structures of the Free Love era in Spaced Out: Radical Environments of the Psychedelic Sixties. In an era driven by altered consciousness, abandoning rules, returning to nature, and visualizing new social orders, living arrangements and spaces followed the spirit of the times, resulting in diverse and vital approaches to the built environment, ones perhaps little considered by historians, but nonetheless important and influential aspects of America’s architectural history.

You can hear Alastair Gordon’s and Samuel White’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.



#1 Ace on 03.13.09 at 1:56 pm

Wow! Astor Courts is incredibly opulent.

#2 blue boy on 06.09.10 at 8:38 pm

the archives skip march 13th and march 14th for some reason. you’re show isn’t there

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