Hugh Ferriss: Delineator of Gotham

Or rendering “The Vertical Sublime”

Picked up a reprinting of a 1929 book by Hugh Ferriss titled The Metropolis of Tomorrow. Ferriss was the preeminent architectural draftsman of his time who through his moody chiaroscuro renderings of skyscrapers virtually inventing the image of Gotham visitors came to the city to see and residents identified with so fondly. As Michael Mallow puts it: “By the mid-twenties, renderings by Ferriss had become almost de rigeur for successful competition projects; countless skyscrapers waited their turn to be bathed in the dark monumentality emanating from his drafting table. In these works a blasé department store appears as a giant lording over its block. Stodgy hotels cease to be stodgy hotels and become looming silhouettes emerging from the urban haze like shipwrecks. Ferriss went to grand new lengths in suppressing detail for mood, and clients loved it.”

07.28. filed under: art. !. design. ideas. people.

Brilliant! Thanks very much. I’m sure it was exciting back in the day, but the print tone suggests ominous and cold to me (it’s hard to imagine away architectual history and project one’s response back in time).

Actually it made me go look up the origins of ‘gotham’ - I was wondering if that was a bastardized form of gothic. It seems not, although it’s not clear…or I’m not searching well today.

[That ‘Noise Between the Stations’ blog looks interesting]


posted on 08.04 at 07:21 AMpeacay

Great article, thanks.  I have always been a big fan of Ferriss.

posted on 08.01 at 11:58 PMMarin

I do not agree with you, although the level of the writing was high.

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