The Coney Island Elephantine Colossus is an object lesson in the need for windowflage, the camouflaging of windows in the service of a building’s overall sculptural effect. The work of Philadelphia architect William Free, it was built in 1883-85 as a hotel and later became a brothel. In 1896, it departed this world in true Coney Island style by burning down. Resolution of the conflict it illustrates, between form and fenestration, is one of the driving forces behind much recent architectural innovation on view in New York.
In his 1930 book, Precisions, Le Corbusier presented a series of sketches illustrating ”the history of architecture by the history of windows throughout the ages,” culminating with his own horizontal ribbon window. Much of the history of architecture since can be traced in the history of window camouflage. Read the rest of this entry »