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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 87, no. 2237: January 28, 1911

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January 28, 1911. RECORD AND GUIDE 151 ^ ESTABDSHED ^ M,fiR.CH 21V.^ 1868, DE/oTEOpHE^LEsTWr.BuiLDlKG Ap.C.I^TTECTURE.HolISEllOUlDEGOnAT10t/. Bl/Slt/ESS AtioTHmES OF GhiJERAI IfjTERESl. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications sliould be addressed to C. W. SWEET Vublished Ei>erg Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer. F. W. DODGE Vlce-Pres. & Genl. Mgr.. H. W. DESMOND Secretary. F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 East a4tli Street, New Tork City (Telephone. Madison Square. 4430 to 4133.) "Entered at tlic Post Office at New Yorh, A''. Y., as second-class matter." Copyriyhted. 1911, hy The Record & Guide Cn. Vol. LXXXVII. JANUARY 28, 1911. No. 2237 OWNERSHIP CONTROL OF ARCHITECTURE. NEW YORK CITY architecture is to-day in an epoch- making period. This is the opinion of European crit¬ ics, if not of American practiUoners, who may be too close to the picture for a satisfactory view. Things are transpiring this present year, even this present week, that tend to con¬ firm the opinion. Professor Adshead, of the University of Liverpool, in reviewing the architecture of America in the "Architectural Record" for Fehruary, asserts that as it "sadly lacks composition," this can only he attained hy ownership control in one of its many forms. At this moment a com¬ mittee of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is about to make an award of medals for the two best apartment houses built last year, and it may he the be¬ ginning of a public movement that will vitalize into action the thought of the English master. The prizes will go to the owner ol! the house in each case as a public testimonial for what he has done as an individual in behalf of American Art. The awards will also be a recognition of the truth of the saying that the beautification of a city is largely dependent on "ownership control." That the owners are beginning to respond patriotically to this sentiment is apparent in a num¬ ber of ways. Can anyone doubt this who Judges rightly the new commercial buildings on Fourth avenue, the elegant new apartment houses facing the University Buildings on Morningside Heights, or the uniformly handsome structures that have recently been erected from one end of Riverside Drive to the other? Of each and every architectural detail we do not speak, only of the general effect upon citizens and visitors. Is there any doubt, we ask, that the neighboring owners endeavored to testify to their respect for Columbia University in the nobility of the buildings they have just erected, or that the builders of the million-dollar apartment houses along our grandest avenues are expressing in the strongest terms possible their appreciation of the public de¬ sire for improvement in the street architecture of the flrst city of America? The improvement over the work of ten years ago is marked. Of course, there are local conditions and financial circumstances apart from individual disposition that have each a certain controlling power over architectural design, but the architects are Quite right in saying that the honor medals belong to the owners. ENCOURAGING SMALL BUILDERS. ANNOUNCEMENT was made at the annual dinner of the Building Trades' Association of the winners in the architectural competition for the prizes the builders posted several months ago, and which formed the motive for the rare collection of drawings that has been on public view at the Exchange. For New York City the nature of the com¬ petition was not only novel hut highly significant of the re¬ markable changes that have come over the building indus¬ try in the metropolitan district. The general eoutractors in this association are men who are mostly engaged with large works, the largest in the whole world in fact, and ordinarily they have only a minor interest in small dwell¬ ings. Yet the prizes offered were for small dwellings and such as can only be erected in the suburbs because of the prescribed coat limitations, namely $2,500 and H.500. The two hundred designs submitted were in effect two hundred answers to the question which every homeseeker asks, what sort of a cottage can be built in the suburbs of New York for three thousand to five^'thousand dollars? The action of the builders in inviting designs of this kind is a recognition of two modern facts; first, that the interest of the majority of men who want to build something is claimed not by such costly buildings as are profitable on this island, but by the private dwellings of the suburbs; and, second, that the Asso¬ ciation must take a wider view of its work, and a wider jurisdiction than it has recently, if it means to keep pace with the times and the growth of the city. While the multi- family house is the logical ultimate development of residen¬ tial construction for central sections, the geographical growth of the city will continue to be represented hy the private dwelling, and every year takes this class of work farther away from the city's center. Thither builders must follow. The Association also recognized in opening the com¬ petition the advent of new materials ol! construction, for the designs are ojily for,houses to be built of concrete blocks and terra-cotta blocks, or by monolithic coustruction, or with a frame of metal lath covered with cement stucco. Wood may be used only for fioor joist, roof timbers and shingles for the roof. And finally it is to be noted that the prizes were awarded with the virtual assurance to the public on the part of the Association that the houses so designed can be built in this district for the figures stated, which, however, do not include the cost of the plumbing, water- supply aud heating. Without this assurance the result would have been ot far less value, if of any vatue at all. GOVERNMENT BY COMMISSION. OVER a year ago the people of Buffalo decided by a hand¬ some majority that they would like to adopt a city charter similar to that which is now becoming so popular in the West. They wanted, that is, to have their city gov¬ erned by a Commission, which would combine the execu¬ tive authority now confided to the Mayor with the semi- legislative authority now confided to the Board of Alder¬ men. The object of this type of city charter is to central¬ ize power and responsibility for the conduct of the city's business in a few hands, while at the same time making these powerful officials amenable to public opinion by the device of the Recall. Charters framed along these lines have been working with emphatic success in many Western cities, but so far the movement in their favor has not made any important conciuests in the East, Neither has any city as large as Buffalo as yet adopted it, although the new Boston charter is built upon similar foundations, and Pitts- burgii is trying to obtain the legislation necessary for the constitution of such a government. The Record and Guide has always believed that a highly centralized administra¬ tive system was necessary both for the cure of municipal corruption in this country and the more efficient conduct of municipal business; aud it has hoped, consequently, that permission could be obtained from the Legislature for the application of the plan to a large Eastern city like Buf¬ falo. But the Republican majority at Albany would not even seriously consider the idea; and we are very much afraid that the Democratic majority of the existing Legis¬ lature will not prove to be any more complaisant. The Democratic leaders in this city have stigmatized the Com¬ mission plan of municipal government as unmitigated Caes- arism, and it is evident that they will be able to so dominate legislative action at Albany. The instant dislike which the plan excites among professional politicians meas¬ ures very accurately the extent to W'hich it will substitute efficient popular government for a government which tends to be inefficient aud subject to merely political influences. -------___-*--------_-— WILL GRADUALLY PREVAIL. THERE is every reason-to believe, however, that the Com¬ mission form of government will gradually prevail even in the East, because a very powerful tide of public opinion all over the country is working in its favor. Year after year a fight will be made on behalf of the necessary legisla¬ tion, and finally the plan will be introduced by some means or other. Already the New York Short Ballot Associa¬ tion is agitating on behalf of a general law, similar to that which has been passed in so many Western States, which permits cities of the third class to adopt the Commission plan after it has been approved by a majority of the citi¬ zens of any community. The Democrats as a matter of party policy would be very wise to pass a genera] law of this -kind, for it is tantamount merely to an attempt to carry out the traditional Democratic doctrine of local self- government; and such a law would probably have a bet-