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Beauty of the City: A. E. Doyle, Portland's Architect

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Beauty of the City: A. E. Doyle, Portland's Architect Cover

ISBN13: 9780870712982
ISBN10: 0870712985
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"All new things built with the idea of preserving the beauty of the city and adding to it." A. E. Doyle

The Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, the Meier & Frank building, the U.S. National Bank — these are just a few of the grand Portland icons designed by Albert E. Doyle. During a period of rapid growth in Portland, Oregon, after the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and before the Great Depression, Doyle (1877-1928) was the city's most important architect. Beauty of the City is the first biography of this celebrated architect. Doyle's career was short, just twenty-one years. Yet everywhere Portland retains his imprint. Many of Doyle's classical, often white terra-cotta buildings became venerable city landmarks. He also designed Portland residences, Neahkahnie beach cottages, and houses and banks in Oregon and Washington.Using A. E. Doyle's own diaries and letters and his firm's records, historian Philip Niles traces the architect's life and times in the context of the burgeoning cityscape. As Portland expanded beyond its frontier origins and provincialism, Doyle helped introduce East Coast and European sophistication. Indeed, his refined sensibility influenced the development of the Northwest Regional Style by Pietro Belluschi and John Yeon, among others. Doyle set the standard for elegance and proportion that later architects adapted to more modern styles — his standard defines Portland's vibrant core and contributes to the city's beauty as much today as it did eighty years ago. Readers interested in Northwest history and culture will appreciate this compelling and richly illustrated biography of — Portland's architect — and the parallel story of the growth of the city.Likewise, architectural historians and those seeking to better understand Portland's architectural heritage will enjoy reading of Doyle's contributions to this celebrated cityscape.

Synopsis:

The Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, the Meier & Frank building, the U.S. National Bank — these are just a few of the grand Portland icons designed by Albert E. Doyle. During a period of rapid growth in Portland, Oregon, after the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and before the Great Depression, Doyle (1877-1928) was the city's most important architect. Doyle's career was short, just twenty-one years. Yet everywhere Portland retains his imprint. Beauty of the City is the first biography of this celebrated architect.

Synopsis:

The Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, the Meier & Frank building, the U.S. National Bank — these are just a few of the grand Portland icons designed by Albert E. Doyle. During a period of rapid growth in Portland, Oregon, after the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and before the Great Depression, Doyle (1877-1928) was the city's most important architect.

Beauty of the City is the first biography of this celebrated architect. Doyle's career was short, just twenty-one years. Yet everywhere Portland retains his imprint. Many of Doyle's classical, often white terra-cotta buildings became venerable city landmarks. He also designed Portland residences, Neahkahnie beach cottages, and houses and banks in Oregon and Washington.

Using A. E. Doyle's own diaries and letters and his firm's records, historian Philip Niles traces the architect's life and times in the context of the burgeoning cityscape. As Portland expanded beyond its frontier origins and provincialism, Doyle helped introduce Eastern and European sophistication. Indeed, his refined sensibility influenced the development of the Northwest Regional Style by Pietro Belluschi and John Yeon, among others. Doyle set the standard for elegance and proportion that later architects adapted to more modern styles — his standard defines Portland's vibrant core and contributes to the city's beauty as much today as it did eighty years ago.

Readers interested in Northwest history and culture will appreciate this compelling and richly illustrated biography of "Portland's architect." Likewise, architectural historians and those seeking to better understand Portland's architectural heritage will enjoy reading of Doyle's contributions to this celebrated cityscape.

About the Author

Philip Niles is Professor Emeritus of History at Carleton College. A Portland native, he returned to the city in 1999.

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Alexander Craghead, November 24, 2008 (view all comments by Alexander Craghead)
Portland has seen numerous shining towers rise in the past half-century. Beginning with Pietro Belluschi's stylish and ground-breaking Equitable (now Commonwealth) Building of 1948, it seems the architecture of the city's core has been written in steel and glass. And yet, for anyone who admires this city -- whether they be a kindly visitor or a passionate lover -- it is not these buildings that define it. True, they soar. Many are remarkable. Yet the vernacular alphabet of the city is made of richer things, of shining white tiles, cornices high in the breeze, and patterns of warm, handsome brick. The buildings date to the early twentieth century, when Portland was both at both the height and the end of its reign as the most important city of the region. In Phillip Niles' book, Beauty of the City: A. E. Doyle, Portland's Architect, we follow the life and career of one of the most important architects of that era. As Niles himself says, "he did more for Portland as it is today than any other architect before or since."

Niles' book gives us a full biography of Doyle, from his roots as the son of a working-class builder to his rise as one of the most important architects of Portland. Doyle's career begins in the halls of the architects Whidden & Lewis, whose surviving buildings in the city most notably include CIty Hall. Here, young Doyle learned his trade through practical experience, ranging from drafting work to being the firm's go-for boy. Doyle was often sent to find particular builders for his employer, which in those days consisted of running from saloon to saloon until the desired contractor was located. Although architects were enjoying good business from the empire builders of the region's business and social elites, it was still more craft or trade than a profession, and Portland, for all its striving and grasping still had quite a rough edge to it.

With rather improvised and gritty roots, both Portland and Doyle "grew up together", as Niles puts it. Doyle quickly rose to become the primary architect in the city. Major landmarks of modern Portland -- such as the Meier & Frank Building or the Galleria or the Benson Hotel or the American Bank Building -- all were designed and built over the course of the first quarter of the century. Just as Portland was rapidly acquiring its gracious downtown, so too was architecture acquiring its professional veneer. Trained as an office boy, by the time that Doyle's career was winding down at mid-century he was frequently and inaccurately described (in his own lifetime!) as having received a degree in architecture at Columbia University. It is telling that towards the end of his life he did little to correct this misunderstanding, and in some cases actually helped to give it life.

Niles' biography of Doyle is more than a basic who-what-where formula. Contained in the narrative are many gems of the history of the city. One of the more amusing pictures that Niles paints relates to one o the first typists in Portland, whose talent was so exciting and new that she used to have an audience, noses pressed t the glass outside her window.

The biographies of professionals such as architects often stand in great danger of being dry, yet Niles manages to avoid this pitfall for the most part. We are often given generous portions of context on the world about Doyle at any given time, and indeed the book is entertaining reading for this fact alone. The writing is clear and readable, although I sometimes feel that Niles has spent too much time on some aspects of Doyle's life. As an example, his two trips to Europe feel overly long. Although a more than enjoyable read, I also feel a lack of any personality from Doyle: at no point does it feel like Niles "gets under the skin" of the architect. I freely admit, however, that this is too much to ask given the nature of the author's sources and the span of time between the book and Doyle's lifetime.

The book is softcover with inexpensive paper and straightforward production values, nesting within a slick and attractive cover. It feels nice to hold and thumb through, with just the right weight to make a long-term read flow. Supporting the text are numerous photos, primarily of buildings that Doyle designed. While these provide necessary additional information, they are rather small and basic in nature and I would have preferred more and larger images.

Overall, Beauty of the City provides an entertaining and valuable record of the development of some of the most visually important structures of downtown Portland. In addition, its early chapters give a good feel for the Edwardian era city. Anyone interested in the regions architecture or in the development of Portland's downtown would find this book an enjoyable and valuable addition to their library.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780870712982
Author:
Niles, Philip
Publisher:
Oregon State University Press
Subject:
Architecture
Subject:
Architects
Subject:
General
Subject:
Planning
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Subject:
History
Subject:
Architects -- United States.
Subject:
Doyle, A. E
Subject:
Biography-Artists Architects and Photographers
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20081131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
278
Dimensions:
9.90x6.90x.70 in. 1.35 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Architects
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » United States » West
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Urban Planning
Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Architecture
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » General
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Oregon » Portland » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

Beauty of the City: A. E. Doyle, Portland's Architect Used Trade Paper
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$14.95 In Stock
Product details 278 pages Oregon State University Press - English 9780870712982 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, the Meier & Frank building, the U.S. National Bank — these are just a few of the grand Portland icons designed by Albert E. Doyle. During a period of rapid growth in Portland, Oregon, after the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and before the Great Depression, Doyle (1877-1928) was the city's most important architect. Doyle's career was short, just twenty-one years. Yet everywhere Portland retains his imprint. Beauty of the City is the first biography of this celebrated architect.
"Synopsis" by , The Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, the Meier & Frank building, the U.S. National Bank — these are just a few of the grand Portland icons designed by Albert E. Doyle. During a period of rapid growth in Portland, Oregon, after the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and before the Great Depression, Doyle (1877-1928) was the city's most important architect.

Beauty of the City is the first biography of this celebrated architect. Doyle's career was short, just twenty-one years. Yet everywhere Portland retains his imprint. Many of Doyle's classical, often white terra-cotta buildings became venerable city landmarks. He also designed Portland residences, Neahkahnie beach cottages, and houses and banks in Oregon and Washington.

Using A. E. Doyle's own diaries and letters and his firm's records, historian Philip Niles traces the architect's life and times in the context of the burgeoning cityscape. As Portland expanded beyond its frontier origins and provincialism, Doyle helped introduce Eastern and European sophistication. Indeed, his refined sensibility influenced the development of the Northwest Regional Style by Pietro Belluschi and John Yeon, among others. Doyle set the standard for elegance and proportion that later architects adapted to more modern styles — his standard defines Portland's vibrant core and contributes to the city's beauty as much today as it did eighty years ago.

Readers interested in Northwest history and culture will appreciate this compelling and richly illustrated biography of "Portland's architect." Likewise, architectural historians and those seeking to better understand Portland's architectural heritage will enjoy reading of Doyle's contributions to this celebrated cityscape.

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