I love it when an architect moves you through spaces,
making you experience an environment as it was meant
to be seen or felt. I also love symmetry, especially in
the hands of architects who know how to use it.
Taking a center line through the Prichard building
it runs straight into the Rotunda in the
Legislative Building and on to the Justice entrance.
The Washington State Capitol architects laid the
campus and the important buildings out in such a way
that they moved you to glimpse views of where you
are going before you get there, teasing you with the
beauty of the campus or various parts of the building.
We came in the “back” door (southern entry) most days, and allowing for the fact that the central doors on both the North and South sides are permanently closed for repair, you can see the architect’s hand guiding you to various views.
From the Prichard building you walk down the textured walkway by the
lovely cherry trees which were turning brilliant red and orange. The path takes you through a narrow opening and you are under the drive-through portico.
In Washington, the green grass really is that green as we head into autumn!
Looking up under the portico the beautiful repeating dogwood motif is a rhythm across the ceiling. There is also a huge chandelier, whose bronze frame has the most beautiful
blue-green umber patina, locked to keep it from swinging in winds or in an earthquake.
It is centered so that you walk directly under it, and the sketch I made onsite was of the symmetrical placement and motif looking up as you head for the entry doors.
If you entered the southern entry through the double doors and look back, walking as if you were continuing on the center-line, you see the Prichard Building again through the glass. Overhead are beautiful Tiffany chandeliers, and below are beautiful
marble floors with a compass pattern in taupe and grey marble.
If you are standing on the compass and turn 180-degrees, you look up the grey marble stairs and see the elegant arch, columns, and see a smaller Tiffany chandelier that is covered in Greek figurines. These chandeliers mark the hallways and paths throughout the building. I walked straight up those stairs, as a visiting dignitary might after the limo dropped her or him off at the Portico entry. You look beyond and get your first glimpse of the Rotunda. On the balcony beyond you can see the Reception Room over the front entrance, flanked by two of the four torchéres that surround the State seal in the floor.
(These are not the torchéres shown in my first blog post.)
Climbing the stairs you walk under the arch
and to the edge of the Rotunda. Your first instinct
is to look up, to see the beautiful main chandelier,
also made by Tiffany. The stunning colors
of the building, salmon pink and burgundy
and taupe and grey against bronze and
twinkling lights catch your eye. As you walk in,
you come almost under the light, which
reminds me of Spielberg’s rendition of the
mother ship. The State Seal of Washington’s face
in bronze is surrounding at this time by red velvet for viewing and to keep people from stepping on the seal.
I also think that artists (and Urban Sketchers) can wake you to see things
(even your own home town) that you would not have noticed.
Next time you enter a building take the time to do it the way the architect wanted
you to enter, and try to see what s/he wanted you to experience.
I admit to running out of time sketching onsite for the day.
I took pictures of the same theme of centered axial circulation from the Northern entrance and intend to sketch these images later to show the formality from the other side.
Or maybe I will wait until my next trip to the Capitol.
Want to meet me for the grand tour?
Drawings made onsite; watercolors added later in my studio.
Images in Stillman & Birn Delta journal with Pentalic pencil, a Preppie pen with
Lexington Grey Noodler’s ink, and Daniel Smith and QoR watercolor paints.
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