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Building on Art November 24, 2008

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

You can probably tell from my prints that I love architectural details. In fact, I wanted to be an architect when I was younger. So it should come as no surprise that I loved seeing the current exhibit in the Birmingham Public Library’s downtown gallery. “Architecture as Art,” compiled by the Birmingham Historical Society, showcases 70 drawings by D.O. Whilldin, a local architect in the first half of the 20th century who designed the fanciful Florentine Building downtown, the original Legion Field, Tuscaloosa’s Bama Theatre, and plenty of other buildings in central Alabama.

All of the drawings in the exhibit are super-detailed and quite beautiful, highlighting decorative details that embellished the exterior and interior of Whilldin’s buildings, from a dramatic art deco eagle to a humorous arrangement of flowers and soda bottles for the doorway of a Buffalo Rock plant. My favorite drawing shows Whilldin’s design for the first post in the staircase rail in his own home–which he rendered as a twisting, swirling, vibrant vine. That may be the best example of Art Nouveau design in this city. (Of course we don’t have much of that to begin with!) Fortunately a good bit of Whilldin’s work survives around town, but I found it extremely fascinating to look at the details of the long-gone buildings.

If the designs weren’t impressive enough, all of the drawings were created and lettered by hand. Which proves once again that architects are artists. Go see for yourself at the fourth floor gallery in the downtown library, through Dec. 28.



1. Melinda Shelton - December 19, 2008

Nice review Charles! Thanks for helping to promote this wonderful exhibit and BPL.

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