President, Ian Firth, looks at four outstanding structures celebrating 100 year anniversaries in 2017.
This is the third in my series of 12 monthly episodes, one for each decade, celebrating structures whose completion anniversary falls this year.
We have arrived at the structures which celebrate their centenary this year. I hope you have been following the series so far; there are some interesting structures out there when you start looking! Maybe you know of others, in which case I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
The examples in this set are a mixed bunch, and all were completed in 1917, ie. 100 years ago, and like the others so far, all these structures are still in use. But first, just to get us off on the right foot as it were, I thought you would also like to know that the famous Converse All Star trainer is also 100 years old this year! Hands up who owns a pair – your President does!
1 Detroit-Superior High Level Bridge
This rather imposing bridge was completed in 1917, opening on Thanksgiving Day, and was designed to carry highway and trams across the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It crosses the river on an extremely skewed alignment, with the main steel arch spanning 180m, even though the river is only about 50m wide. The overall length, including the galleried concrete arch approach spans, is 949m.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Michael Barera)
Officially known as the "Veterans Memorial Bridge" (since 11 November 1989), it joins Detroit Avenue on the west side with Superior Avenue on the east, and was constructed by the King Bridge Company at a cost of $5.4M.
It was the first fixed high level crossing in the city, enabling uninterrupted traffic flow over the river, and with 12 arches in reinforced concrete and the main steel truss arch span it is said to have been the largest steel and concrete bridge in the world when completed. The steel span was the third longest steel arch span in the USA at that time.
The lower level was designed to carry streetcars or trams but was abandoned in 1955 when trams no longer operated on the bridge. The bridge was well known for its unusual subway approaches beneath the streets at each end, and these are open to the public a few times each year, together with the lower level of the bridge, for those who are interested.
(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: LeeG7144)
The upper level still carries highway traffic, but recent developments of the interstate highway system, with various high level crossings of the river, have reduced the significance of the bridge as a commuter route. However, the bridge still remains a key feature in Cleveland's built environment and an impressive example of early 20th Century architectural and engineering expression.
2 Hallidie Building, San Francisco, California
There is some disagreement in the available material online as to whether this was the first ever building with glass curtain walling in the façade. Some say it was, but others reckon that this record belongs to Louis Curtiss's Boley Clothing Company building in Kansas City, which was completed in 1909. Whoever is correct, the Hallidie building certainly has one of the very earliest glass curtain wall facades and is still in use today.
The building only has a single glass façade, but the idea of tall buildings as a "glass prism", with a non-structural external glass skin, was developed by architects Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier in the 1920's. The first full glass curtain wall system didn't materialise until 1928. The system really only took off with the advent of air-conditioning and rubber sealants in the 1940's.
Standing in the financial district of downtown San Francisco at 130 Sutter Street, the Hallidie building was designed by the architect Willis Polk and named in honour of San Francisco's cable car pioneer Andrew Smith Hallidie.
It currently houses the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Center for Architecture + Design, among other organisations.
The building's balconies and splendid Gothic fire escapes were deemed unsafe by the City of San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection in August 2010, which gave rise to a two-year restoration of the building, completed in 2013.
(The building in 1981. Image source: public domain)
3 Mercado de Colon, Valencia, Spain
This is a must-see architectural and structural gem, as well as a lively market, on the itinerary of many a visitor to Valencia. Situated at the heart of the city's commercial centre, the Colon Market was designed by the city architect of the day, Francisco Mora Berenguer, who was influenced by the Catalan modernist movement. It was actually completed in 1916 and opened on New Year's Eve, but that is close enough for me so I am still calling it 100 years old this year!
In 2003, it went through a major restoration project and is now not only a favourite meeting place but also the heart of a very fashionable address in the city. The restoration involved extensive excavations and temporary supports to construct four basement levels underneath the existing structure, together with a substantial renovation of the riveted wrought iron structure and decorative masonry facades.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Diego Delso)
The elegant gallery of the wrought ironwork is spectacular, and the colourful facades inspired by Gaudi contain decorations depicting scenes from Valencian country life. Altogether a masterpiece well worth making a detour to see next time you are passing.
4 St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
I had to include this one! It was, after all, designed by the great English gothic revival architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, famous for so many churches, grand buildings and monuments including the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial opposite the Royal Albert Hall in London.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Dun Deagh)
Construction started in 1874, and the building was actually opened for daily worship and ministry in 1879, sadly just after Scott had died. But it is included here because the twin spires at the west end, known as "Barbara" and "Mary" (after the Walker sisters whose legacy paid for the Cathedral) were not completed until 1917. The architect for these was Charles Marriott Oldrid Scott, Sir George's grandson.