McKim, Mead, and White

Boston Library

Boston Library, Boston, MA

Boston Labrary

Boston Library, Boston, MA

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden II , New York City

Charles Follen McKim, (1847–1909), American architect, b. Chester co., Pa., studied (1867–70) at the École des Beaux-Arts. He was one of the founders of the firm of McKim, Mead, and Bigelow, which in 1879 became McKim, Mead, and White (see William Rutherford Mead and Stanford White). A vast number of important commissions came into the firm's offices, in which McKim's spirit and taste were the controlling forces. Following a policy of adhering to classical architecture and its Renaissance derivatives, the partners erected a long series of buildings with a restrained classical sobriety that turned the tide away from the vagaries of the prevailing romanticism. Early examples of the style were the old Madison Square Garden (1891, now demolished), New York City, and the Boston Public Library (1888–95).

McKim was influential in the development of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, for which he built the Agricultural Palace. He designed a fine series of clubhouses in New York City, of which the Harvard Club and the University Club are two; a number of buildings for Columbia Univ., including Low Memorial Library; the Pennsylvania RR station (1904–10, now demolished); the Pierpont Morgan Library; and numerous fine commercial and residential works. His restorations include the work on Thomas Jefferson's buildings at the Univ. of Virginia and on the White House at Washington, D.C.

McKim was associated with D. H. Burnham, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and F. L. Olmsted, Jr. (see under Olmsted, F. L.), on the Senate Park Commission, which drew up plans for the development of Washington and the District of Columbia. He was first president of the American Academy in Rome, to the founding of which he had devoted many years of zealous effort.

William Rutherford Mead (1846 – 1928) was an American architect who was the "Center of the Office" of McKim, Mead, and White.

In 1872, Mead partnered with Charles Follen McKim, a fellow New York architect, but Mead's talent was more for running an office rather than designing. This collaboration with McKim produced one of Mead's only known commissions, a house for an Amherst classmate, Dwight Herrick, from Mead's hometown of Chesterfield, New Hampshire.

Around December 1877, the firm took on William Bigelow, the elder brother of McKim's new wife, Annie Bigelow, as a partner, becoming McKim, Mead and Bigelow, with offices at 57 Broadway. In 1879, Bigelow withdrew from the firm, but they were joined by Stanford White to form McKim, Mead, and White. Mead was the partner who "hired and fired", "steered the ship", and spent his time "trying to keep the partners from making damn fools of themselves."

Stanford White, (1853–1906), American architect, b. New York City; son of Richard Grant White. In 1872 he entered the office of Gambrill and Richardson in Boston, at the time when H. H. Richardson was at the peak of his fame. There White worked upon the design for Trinity Church, Boston. After studying in Europe, he entered (1879) into partnership with C. F. McKim and W. R. Mead, a firm that was to affect the course of American architecture over a long period. White had a passionate love of beauty; his special talents were for the decorative elements of a building and for its interior design and furnishing. He also possessed a wide knowledge of antiques. Among the buildings executed by the firm, those that are commonly ascribed as his individual accomplishments include the second Madison Square Garden, Madison Square Presbyterian Church, the New York Herald Building, Washington Arch, and the Century Club, all in New York City; only the last two still stand. These buildings illustrated his characteristic concentration upon rich and graceful effects and especially upon beautifully sculptured Renaissance ornament. White was shot and killed in Madison Square Roof Garden by Harry K. Thaw because of his love affair with Thaw's wife, Evelyn Nesbit Thaw. After his death the firm continued to design buildings in his style that later were erroneously attributed to White himself, e.g., the Harvard Club, New York City.


Boston Public Library

Charles Follen McKim's design shows influence from a number of architectural precedents. McKim drew explicitly on the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris for the general arrangement of the facade that fronts on Copley Square, but his detailing of that facade's arcaded windows owes a clear debt to the side elevations of Leon Battista Alberti's Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini. The open-air courtyard at the center of the building is based closely on that of the sixteenth-century Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome. McKim also exploited up-to-date building technology, as the library represents one of the first major applications, in the United States, of the system of thin tile vaults exported from the Catalan architectural tradition by the Valencian Rafael Guastavino. Seven different types of Guastavino vaulting can be seen in the library.

The McKim building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its architectural and historical significance, given Boston Landmark status by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 2000. It was the first major Beaux Arts building in the United States, and it was also the first large-scale urban library building in the nation.

Madison Square Garden II

Madison Square Garden II, as it has come to be called in retrospect, replaced an antiquated open-air structure that was previously a railroad passenger depot, was built by a syndicate which included J. P. MorganAndrew CarnegieP. T. Barnum, Darius MillsJames Stillman and W. W. Astor. White gave them a Beaux-Arts structure with a Moorish feel, including a minaret-like tower modeled after Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville – soaring 32 stories – the city's second tallest building at the time – dominating Madison Square Park. It was 200 feet by 485 feet, and the main hall, which was the largest in the world, measured 200 feet by 350 feet, with permanent seating for 8,000 people and floor space for thousands more. It had a 1200-seat theatre, a concert hall with a capacity of 1500, the largest restaurant in the city and a roof garden cabaret. The final cost for the building, which the New York Times called "one of the great institutions of the town, to be mentioned along with Central Park and the bridge of Brooklyn" was $3 million.

Topping the Garden's tower was a statue of Diana, by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which caused Madison Square Park to become known as "Diana's little wooded park". The original gilt copper statue was 18 ft tall, and weighed 1,800 lb, and spun with the wind; Saint-Gaudens had draped the statue in cloth, but this was soon blown away. The statue was put in place in 1891, but was soon thought to be too large by Saint-Gaudens and White. It was removed and placed on top of a building at The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but the bottom half was destroyed by a fire after the close of the Exposition, and the top half was lost. In 1893 a hollow second version of the statue, 13 ft (4.0 m) tall and made of gilded copper, replaced the original. This is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a copy is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Saint-Gaudens made several smaller variants in bronze, one of which was on display in the entryway of both Madison Square Garden III, built in 1925, and the current Madison Square Garden.


Major Architectural Work:




Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and I reside in Stevensville, Michigan my wife and two children. I have been interested in Architecture since my boyhood days; however, because of my families business—a lumberyard—I never really got a chance to pursue my dream until later in my career. Read more...


Who's Online

We have 127 guests and no members online