On View> Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile


Della Robbia Room Bar, Vanderbilt Hotel, 1912

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile
Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Avenue, New York
Through September 7th

Coming to New York City from Washington, D.C., this exhibition illuminates the legacy of architect and builder Rafael Guastavino. A Catalan immigrant, Guastavino created the iconic (and aptly named) Guastavino tile. By interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to build his arches, Guastavino married old-world aesthetics with modern innovation. The resulting intersection of technology and design revolutionized New York City’s landscape, and is used in over 200 historic buildings including Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall, The Bronx Zoo’s Elephant House, and Ellis Island.

Guastavino’s son, Rafael III, is part of the family legacy explored in the exhibition. MCNY has expanded this showing to include 20 more projects found throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The exhibition also boasts an 11-by-15-foot replica of a Guastavino vault, contemporary photos by Michael Freeman, previously unreleased drawings and materials, and a video gallery installation that visually immerses the viewer in Guastavino’s vaults.


City Hall Subway Station, Tile Vaulting (Courtesy Michael Freeman)

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