COMPETITION DESIGN OF FEDERAL CITY FOR COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
Bernard R. Maybeck, M.H. White and Professor Charles Gilman Hyde.
Typescript, undated but 1911-12, in Documents Collection, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley.Born in New York city on February 7, 1862 to German immigrants who had come to America slightly more than a decade earlier, Bernard Ralph Maybeck (1862-1957) grew up in a family circle that encouraged him to draw and paint. He studied at the DeutscheAmericanische Schule and the Benjamin Franklin School in New York, learning both French and German before entering the college of the City of New York.COMPETITION DESIGN OF FEDERAL CITY FOR COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
Before graduating, he entered his father's trade of high quality wood carving, but he found designing more exciting than the details of production. His father arranged for him to study in Paris at the studio of one of the two partners who owned the custom furniture and architectural carving business where the senior Maybeck worked.
Bernard Maybeck was 19 when he arrived in Paris. The École des BeauxArts was near the studio, and Maybeck decided to become an architect. Although his training seemed inadequate, his high scores on the entrance examination gained him admission in 1882 in the atelier of Jules André, elected as one of the forty members of the Institut de France.
After completing all the work required for the diplomé (although as a foreign student he was not eligible to receive this distinction, a regulation that was lifted a year later), he returned to the U.S. in 1886. In New York he began his career with the new partnership of John Mervyn Carrère and Thomas Hastings, both of whom had been students at the École, the latter being Maybeck's roommate in Paris.
For Carrère and Hastings, Maybeck worked on aspects of Henry Flagler's Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida, a lavish structure in a romantic Spanish Renaissance style. However, his specific contributions to that building and to the equally elaborate Alcazar Hotel in the same city cannot be identified. Because Maybeck favored medieval design as his inspiration rather than the classicism of Carrère and also recognized that he was not likely to become a partner in Carrère and Hastings, he moved to Kansas City in 1889. It was there that he entered his first competition, one held for the design of the St. Louis city hall.
Finding opportunities limited in Kansas City, Maybeck left for San Francisco, returning to Kansas City late in October, 1890 to marry Annie White with whom he returned to California to make his lifelong home. Eventually he found work in the office of A. Page Brown, whose commissions included the California building at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Maybeck supervised its construction and had an opportunity to see the Fair's other buildings and its formal layout, which he admired.
The Maybeck's moved to Berkeley in 1892, and two years later Maybeck became an instructor in drawing in the Civil Engineering College at the University of California. Along with his other duties, Maybeck taught an independent course in architecture. He also taught at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in San Francisco where he became director of the architectural section. Then, after a European tour he became Instructor in Architecture at the university, the first such position and one he held from 1898 until he resigned in 1903. Among his students were Harvey Wiley Corbett and Julia Morgan.
In 1895 Phoebe Apperson Hearst indicated her desire to donate funds to the university for a mining building that would commemorate her husband, who had made his fortune in that occupation. To Maybeck, the sole architect employed by the university, fell the task of preparing a sketch for the building, a rendering that Mrs. Hearst approved. This led Maybeck to urge that the university prepare a campus development plan. The Board of Regent's initial negative reaction gave way before Mrs. Hearst's endorsement of the idea. She asked that Maybeck be given a twoyear leave to act as professional advisor for an international competition to select the best design, the prizes to be donated by her. In 1896 Maybeck published a sketch of his own to illustrate the kind of approach that might be followed, although, as advisor he could not become a competitor.
One passage in the prospectus for the competition that the Regents issued reflects Maybeck's thinking, if he did not actually write it:
[The University] is a city that is to be created--A City of Learning--in which there is to be no sordid or inharmonious feature. There are to be no definite limitations of cost, materials or style. All is to be left to the unfettered discretion of the designer. He is asked to record his conception of an ideal home for a university, assuming time and resources to be unlimited. He is to plan for centuries to come. There will doubtless be developments of science in the future that will impose new duties on the University, and require alterations in the detailed arrangement of its buildings, but it is believed to be possible to secure a comprehensive plan in harmony with the universal principles of architectural art.
Maybeck and his wife left for Europe in 1897 to arrange the details of the preliminary round of the competition and to select the jurors. By the time the preliminary judging took place in Antwerp, 105 entries had been received. From these, the international jury selected eleven finalists who came to Berkeley at the expense of Mrs. Hearst to see the site. In 1899 the first prize went to Emile Bénard of Paris for his formal design, but when Bénard declined the position of Supervising Architect, John Galen Howard, winner of fourthplace was appointed to guide the growth of the campus.
Maybeck established his architectural office in San Francisco and began a practice that concentrated on the design of private homes, churches, and club buildings. Most of his over two hundred commissions demonstrate Maybeck's originality and his refusal to follow conventional ideas of how a building should appear.
Work was not always forthcoming, and he entered several competitions. In 1911, about the time he must have been working on his plan for Canberra, Maybeck entered two competitions. One was for the design of the San Francisco City Hall, the other for a courthouse in Dayton, Nevada, but his entries did not win prizes. Needing money, Maybeck worked for Willis Polk, and it was his design for Polk of the Palace of Fine Arts for the PanamaPacific International Exposition of 1913 that led to his appointment as its architect.
Except for his involvement with the campus planning competition for the University of California, Maybeck had no recorded experience in largescale planning prior to the Canberra competition. He did influence the development of his own neighborhood in Berkeley with recommendations for how houses should be fitted into the steep hillsides, and in the 190607 bulletin of the neighborhood association, a dozen of his illustrations show how this could best be done.
In 1913 J. L. Brookings retained Maybeck to design "some housing and community buildings" for his lumber mill employees in Oregon. Maybeck produced a town plan as well as drawings for grouped housing, a hotel, and other buildings but except for the hotel this project died. His other town plan was for Clyde, a shipbuilding community projected during World War I on a site on San Francisco Bay. In this case, Maybeck was called on to review and modify a design already prepared. Today the place consists of three residential streets.
His later experiences in large scale design were for college campus plans, first for Mills College in 1918 and then for Principia College. For the latter institution he prepared two designs, each with variations. The first was for its site in St. Louis, Missouri between 1923 and 1930 and the second for a new site in Elsah, Illinois in 193038.
Maybeck had a curious connection with Canberra that began when in 1915 he met the former Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, in San Francisco where Deakin had been in charge of the Australian buildings at the PanamaPacific International Exposition. As Cardwell summarizes the events, Maybeck told Deakin that he disagreed with the location proposed by Griffin for the Houses of Parliament. Maybeck told him that a temporary building should be erected to test the location.
This led to some correspondence on the matter, with Griffin eventually being asked for his response. Griffin wrote to Maybeck defending his ideas, pointed out that "temporary" construction was what was being erected anyway. In one letter Maybeck responded:
I believe that the people themselves must determine how [the city] is to be used. A merchant selling silks, calico and ribbons is the best authority for determining where his shop is to be, a real estate man will know where people will buy for their residences. I do not believe that the Parliament building should be the first ones to be located, for since all public business is conducted by human beings it is good to place them where it is most convenient for their work.
In 1937 Maybeck became associate architect for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, and he also served as a member of the Berkeley, California city planning commission. In 1951 the American Institute of Architects awarded him its Gold Medal, and he also received honorary degrees from Mills College and the University of California.
The San Francisco city directory for 1915 lists Mark. H. White ( ? - ? ) as an architect in the office of Bernard R. Maybeck. White's residence was in Berkeley, with no street address provided. No other information about him has yet been found.
Charles Gilman Hyde (1874-1971) was one of America's most distinguished sanitary engineers. At the time he prepared the section on sewage disposal and water supply for Maybeck's written statement he was Professor of Sanitary Engineering at the University of California in Berkeley--the first person to be appointed to that position. Prior to his appointment as an assistant professor in 1905, he had held a series of increasingly important positions in his field following his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1896.
Hyde was a consulting sanitary engineer to the California State Department of Public Health from 1911 to 1944. His career after 1912 involved him in a variety of consulting tasks, military service in the First World War and--during World War II--as chairman of the California State Commission on Water Supply and, in 194446, as consulting engineer to the 12th Naval District in San Francisco. Among his many other assignments, he was a consultant to the National Park Service on sanitation. He also provided engineering advice on projects in Vancouver, British Columbia and Auckland, New Zealand.
Hyde wrote more than 100 articles and technical reports and was a member of a dozen or more professional associations. These included the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Public Health Association, the American Water Works Association, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the Federation of Sewage Works Association, which he served as a member of the executive committee and the board of control from 1932 to 1942.
In addition to his teaching and research activities at the University of California, he served as Dean of Men in 192628. He retired from teaching in 1944 as Professor Emeritus but remained as an active professional until his death in 1971. Recognizing his outstanding contributions to engineering, the University awarded him the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1949.
Plan to be added when permission received from the Australian Government Publishing Service. Document text below is provided through the courtesy of the Archives, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley.
LIST OF DATA SUBMITTED.
One Plan. ____________________________On one stretcher.
Two Birdseye Views.___________________On two stretchers.
One Parliament House Details._________On one stretcher.
One National Theatre._________________On one stretcher.
Railroad Station and Special Building,________________On one stretcher.
Two Special Buildings.________________On one stretcher.
One set of typewritten notes.
One envelope containing address.
Limited time has prevented our being able to give much care to arranging the description. Consequently the following is rather a collection of notes written as the work progressed.
The object of a Competition such as this is to show a method of attacking the problem, to fire the imagination of those who come hereafter, not to curb it.
All suggestions should be in the nature of dreams, and be so presented that each later man reads into them his own ideals. If each part of the composition is rigidly fixed it will hinder that spontaneous unconscious developement [sic] which is the most precious thing we have, that opinion uninfluenced by others after years of study and observation. Such a method of presenting the plan will suggest growth.
It is not likely that any lines of the accepted plan will be realized except the main axes of the principal thoroughfares and, in a general way, the directions of the streets. But what is important and what should be the axiom of this competition is to get a point of view which will give direction to all future activities.
Baron Haussman brought into being ideals of axes which had been dreams for centuries, and to satiate the hunger for these ideals many impossible things were done in rearranging Paris boulevards. Then it was found that when groups of buildings were beautifully arranged, their plan with surrounding gardens and grounds automatically formed ornaments.
This was pushed to the extreme during the era of the design of symetry [sic], making it necessary to re-make the landscape to fit the plan.
The modern idea of fitting the plan to the topography makes the plan more or less fussy,- large simple lines being possible only in a flat country. Nevertheless the composite of the natural lines of the contour and the healthy practical needs, more or less definite, and the artistic ideals as they have developed, will be an ornamental design. Such an honestly developed ornamental design is beautiful not only to the aernaut [sic] in the air but to the architect in his dream.
The mind is reminiscent, and the man living or walking among the forms thus laid out becomes conscious of a definite scheme and is influenced by the beauty he can not see as a whole.
In planning the Federal City we have given the whole town site an ornamental framework of streets,-first, that automatically the town will become congested, the spaces reserved for a something that never comes to pass will ultimately be sorely needed for some other improvement, just as in older towns the domains of the church and the nobility are now being put to use because they are the only open spaces; second, because the site selected is beautifully modeled naturally and the lines suggested by the topography are of an ornamental nature.
Even in the attempt to give them a definite direction for a practical reason the lines grow to be pleasing, and it is only another step to apply the principles of ornament and bring them into harmony.
The necessary main lines of communication must take their position more or less irrespective of other conditions.
It is in general desirable to connect in a straight line points of interest so that at any point of a long avenue the point of interest fills the picture at the horizon, with walls of trees or buildings framing the sides.
If however, the line of axis runs down hill and up again, a slight angle in the straight line is not perceptible. If the break occurs at the lowest point where there is a confusion caused by other things of interest to disturb the possibility of sighting along the line, the change of direction will be practically unnoticed.
In general, the direction of streets should be so that they shed water, are not parallel to the direction of bad winds, and provide shade in the middle of the day.
When the map of a city is made it must at first glance give a general idea of the topography.
If it does, the question of beauty, sewers, storm water, etc., will take care of themselves, and the more closely the contour lines are followed the more economical the plan,- in grading, sewers, retaining walls and repairs.
The main streets connecting points of interest are fixed once the topography has located those central features.
The other main streets, especially those running into hills, are open to discussion. In sections such as that surrounding Red Hill,l the artist will want all streets to "behold" the peak,- the practical man will object to going around the hill but will want the street to run tangent to its base.
On the hills themselves the least cutting is the best. For vigorous people in a hurry, cross paths, stairways and elevators supply inexpensive short cuts.
The exact line of change from a straight to a curved street is determined by the practical need modified by the picturesque. If there is no exact reason one way or the other the change should ne [i.e., be] dictated by the lines which look beautiful on the map.
Curved streets should not be all the same width but should vary according to use and position.
Nor need a street be of uniform width throughout.
If the topographical lines are far apart at one end of a street and nearer at the other, the street should narrow slightly for both scientific and artistic reasons.
There are many theories as to the subdivision of the spaces between the avenues and the hills.
The old towns had to crowd as many people as possible inside the walls,-later, slow and expensive transportation made expansion uneconomical[.]
The average modern city is laid out by the Real Estate Speculator so as to make each lot a salable building site.
In the future Federal City with a network of direct avenues for quick land cheap transportation and with plenty of land to cover, the checkerboard system is no longer a necessity.
With the facts established that the topography is varied, that there must be no grade greater than seven per cent, that there must be practically no cutting, that climatic conditions must be taken into consideration, then the town divides itself into neighborhoods, or little civic centers.
The planning of each such center with its schools, playgrounds, tenements, cottages, stores, churches, and places of amusement, needs as serious study as a Parliament Hill.
The longer each section is studied the more closely the plan will fit the contours and consequently the more it will harmonize with the natural laws which made the contours.
It will be a study of ornamental design in miniature as was the general plan on a larger scale, and the result will be little neighborhoods with an atmosphere of quaintness of the medieval town tempered by the practical needs of the modern day.
We have spent months, practically the whole time allowed for work,- just on this aspect of the plan. It would take as much longer to get well begun on an ultimate plan.
In the checkerboard system there is no waste space, but in the ideal city the waste space is an asset.(1) In the semi-suburban residence section the shape of lots is immaterial, but in the cottage, business, and tenement districts only rectangular lots need be sold,l the City retaining ownership of all triangular or irregular shaped pieces, using them for playgrounds, schools, parks, monuments, or leasing them for semi-public buildings, churches or places of amusement, always with the proviso that any buildings must be finished on all sides and surrounded on street and inner sides by liberal parked space for fire protection and beauty.
In fact, all semi-public buildings should be isolated and surrounded by free space, never sandwiched between other buildings, and always government controlled.
The so called flat iron type of building should be made impossible, either modify the street arrangement or park the objectionable triangle. No corner of an acute angle should show less than one hundred and fifty feet of the truncated part of the angle apex.
Intersect blocks by alleys in both directions.(2) In residence or apartment districts these can be open. In business and tenement districts the entrance could be through an arch way, the portal twenty to thirty feet high. In commercial districts they will be on the basement level, tunneled through under main thoroughfares, and reached by stairways through archways. they would be wide enough to accommodate tracks for trucks, with turntables in large stores or other convenient points.
This network of basement alley ways has its terminals in warehouses and freight stations and with tracks, trucks, electric cranes etc., frame an iron skeleton of the business section, obviating the necessity of street and sidewalk trucking.
In some sections are rectangular park areas in the middle of each block, these to be common play and lounging grounds parked and owned by the city.(3) These, open to observation through alleys in both directions, cut out all possibility of the hidden dark and dirty corners of the usual tenement and factory district order, and by giving a rear approach to the houses, cut out street and sidewalk delivering.
On land of varying contour there are certain natural drains and water courses with springs and streams, either temporary or permanent. Such sections are no good for building purposes and should be retained by the City for park and drainage purposes, sometimes sub-drained, sometimes damned to make lakes or supply constant fountains, waterfalls and pools for public pleasure, often planted with deep growing trees to hold unstable soil.
Wherever such a natural feature occurs(4) at the street corner or in the park, it should be utilized as the center of a composition and preserved. No digging out or covering up will keep it from breaking out sometime and beyond the practical sense of letting nature alone, is the pleasure of surprise in the midst of the turmoil of artificial city life. Italy is full of such soothing bits,- one reason why we go there.
In studying the Federal City Site, we find some high points too inaccessible for public utilities. These recommend themselves for public parks, with sites for observatories or monuments with surrounding gardens and terraces.
Wherever possible the old forest should be preserved(5) and the wildest parts should be kept as primeval as possible.
Any modern geometric arrangement of new trees may be planted right through the old forest, clearing only enough to make the new growth thrive. The sharp contrast of the fresh young trees, flowers and green grass and the rugged grey of the rough and old, has the charm of some music,- you endure in delicious agony an hour of musical discord and all at once a sweet melody gives relief.
The old forest is precious and should be preserved up to the last minute. Even if a new granite monument be built in its midst, the trees should remain to within a few feet of its walls and in a short time, either throught [sic] the influence or the unintention of the gardener, new growths will appear and shortly the whole composition will be in harmony.
Old Friar Tuck's Chapel is such a bit,-that only an old forest can give. It affects not only the the [sic] highly sensitive artist but the ordinary human heart as well.
Years afterward, when the new [part of](6) town demands the finished product, will be time enough to cut away those trees that must go to make room for a more formal arrangement.
While the new town is growing trees and shrubs should be planted everywhere, on empty lots, to disguise unsightly party walls, stables, factories, railroad tracks, power houses, Poverty Lane etc.
Fundamentally, no buildings of importance should be placed inside the flood line. The fact that at some future time, in case of earthquakes, or unforseen [sic] conditions, the whole valley might might [sic] be flooded in spite of all possible precautions taken, dictates a temporary character for the architecture.
Some place near the(7) heart of the city will be a park place for expositions and festivities of a national(8) character. Lagoons, monumental bridges, winding waterways with tree bound drives, walks where you can put your foot in the water, and gardens with flowers enough to pick, will make it a dignified playground for the commonwealth.
Toward the residence districts there will be club houses, baths, libraries, and various buildings not the less beautiful because in the nature of things not built to last forever.
Toward the workmens' quarter, skating rinks, even certain parts alotted [sic] to circus or temporary booths and bazzars [sic], athletic grounds, etc., everything properly supervised, planted, and made beautiful and happy, but nothing so permanent and important that a flood one hundred years from now will do serious damage.
Such a play ground while geographically dividing the city, in reality cements the life of the City and the Nation, through its happy side. On the practical side, the lagoon will have more overflow gates than inlets so that in case of sudden slight increase of water there will be no possible flood.
So much for the general arrangement of the plan.
On account of the small scale it was difficult to show the details of public squares which would make the intention of the drawing clear.
Many forms are shown to give the mass of a composition, sufficient as a suggestion to be interpreted to suit the fancy of the one who carries out the work.
Many ornamental details are therefore indicated which mean nothing except that the space covered need some treatment; it may be a group of trees, some booths, statues of groups of statues, little refreshment shops etc.
A larger drawing would show more detail interpretation of the design, but if the succeeding architects were clever enough to be worth while, they would prefer not to be so bound.
The same may be said of the buildings indicated on the plan. The shape of the ground for one reason or another determines the shape of the various buildings and their relation to each other from a standpoint of form.
All the building sites any scheme will reasonably admit will not be sufficient for the number of public or semi-public buildings that will be needed. Besides the things of the old world to be duplicated, are all those things that new conditions bring to pass.
In giving a name to a building or group of buildings it is not intended that that is the specific place for all time for that building and nothing short of a revolution can change it. When a group for instance, is marked "Military" it means only that this spot is of such a magnitude and location that the military departments could be equipped there perhaps even better than elsewhere, but there may be reasons which no one can foresee which would put the military near the freight yards at the other end of town.
The only fixed points in this plan are the sites for the parliament buildings and the main railroad station. After this the scheme is exceedingly flexible.
Of course if there is to be a cathedral and its auxiliaries which every new town strives to possess, the geographic location seems to be the one at the mount ( ), while the opera and its auxiliaries are well located geographically at ( )[.] There may however develope [sic] reasons which would put this over near mount ( ).(9)
As a general scheme, there seems to be fitness in grading the groups as they are related to the spiritual or to the practical side of life.
For example; Starting with the Railroad Station, first would come hotels, then financial and business center, next law courts etc., up to Parliament and Government buildings. Beyond these over toward the Cathedral side, would naturally come the department of things mental, Universities, Museums, Military School, Hospitals, etc., leading into the things pertaining to the spiritual side of life of which the Cathedral would be the climax. Thence through the fine arts, opera, theatre, apartments, music and art museums, down to the lower class of entertainment, dance halls, shows, vaudeville and merry-go-rounds at the opposite end of town toward the freight and car yards.
The various residence sections intervening would then partake of the character of the principal buildings in the vicinity, while the main residence section on the protected hill slopes would have a suburban character as a developement [sic] from the grade of the land.
This section again is suitable for universities, hospitals, & schools of various kinds provided there is land beyond for future developement. [sic]
The public and semi-public buildings have been indicated in largest possible dimension, for it is hoped that on the Federal Site the old bee-hive of story-on-story will become obsolete in the presence of conditions that make the multi-story building no longer a necessity.
In a city planned for growth and for time the buildings can not be placed in any numerical order of importance.
What is important to-day may be useless one hundred years from now. One group expands rapidly from year to year, another slowly or not at all.(10)
It would be worse than unwise to dictate a uniform style of architecture. the use of a building, the location, and the material used, dictate the style.
The man in the office building cannot see behind columns that are large enough to look well, although the same columns will beautifully surround to [i.e., the]auditorium which is lighted from above, as was the temple which grew the column.
When the time comes for a special group to be built, then the composition will be re-studied with all the originality that may be, with no restriction except that in that locality a certain key note has been struck and everything there should be of the same character.
For example,- If it should be decided that in the cathedral neighborhood some of the character of the English cathedral epoch should be adhered to, then all the buildings in the neighborhood should be made to harmonize, and the buildings as they extend down the main streets, should little by little merge into the character of the neighborhood to which they lead.
An extreme case would be illustrated by the main street running from the Cathedral to the Amusement squares. The upper end would harmonize with the Cathedral, the lower end with the light and frivolous temporary construction of the Amusement palace etc. The point of transition or the merging will depend upon the individual to whom that street is intrusted.
There are however certain general restrictions and suggestions which the negative experience in other cases has made seem wise.
In massing the buildings which are at the end of long vistas or which are intended to group with other buildings in the foreground, and not lose too much in perspective, the exterior details must be exaggerated in size.
Garnier's Opera House in Paris has details of enormous scale and whether one likes the style or not he must be impressed with the massing and scale.
Another good example is the rear of St. Peter's in Rome. This has splendid proportions and the details are enormous, but when St. Peter's is seen from the front it loses all its bigness.
Ordinarily the proportions of any building are made as to be seen from across a sixty foot street. Whether it is one hundred feet high or twenty, whether in the center of a square or at the end of an avenue, the details are all the same,-the same number of horizontal lines.
Whatever the interior may be, the outside of the building intended to be seen from afar, should be of heroic proportions. As an illustration,- say that the exterior of an edifice at the end of a view be five stories high. It should have for a facade one single motive from the ground to the roof, not be cut up into basement, mezzanine, body, cornice and attic. If there were columns on the facade, the colonade [sic] should reach from the ground to the roof, the interior of the building to be handled as best one may. There is always a way when both the architect and client and all concerned are in earnest and ready to give and take.
It is fortunate that there are so many little mounds in the new City.(11) These can be utilized to set off principal buildings, as the Japanese puts his works of ivory art on little tables made for the purpose. This has the advantage of preventing a drop in the perspective and, although the hill and edifice falls tremendously in perspective, you will still find the building where you expected it and not apparently in a hole as with most big buildings that stand on a flat piece of ground.
This optical illusion has given architects in all ages a great deal to worry about and is the cause of the basement motive in large buildings. the basements look well so long as there are no windows, and seem like pedestals to the structure above. but the windows, and particularly the modern practical windows, spoil all illusion and make one think of toy houses for children rather than buildings intended to clothe institutions with the dignity that we think they ought to have. With mounds for pedestals the basement motive can be abandoned.
In grouping the buildings in a public square care should be taken not to put the buildings too far apart. For example,- the Place de la Concord, to one seeing it for the first time looks bare.
We should be careful not to line up the public buildings in a row like so many tomb stones as in the new scheme of the City of Washington, but rather to interweave the buildings.
After first finding a good external massing of a group of a number of buildings, let those of kindred use interlock, as do the various courts of the Oxford University which has an indescribable charm.
Part of the charm of Oxford comes from the fact that the buildings are low.
With modern improvements for moving horizontally it ought not to be necessary in the public buildings such as the Department of State, Interior(12) etc., to have many stories, rather have several buildings of one, two or three stories connected by courts and corridors, bridges, and other picturesque short cuts. If at any point special concentration is needed, the necessary ten or twenty stories can form a tower in the composition.
In the business district, if it should become necessary to allow high buildings in the intense center of business activity, they should be few in number and in places especially allotted to them where they will make a fortunate break in the sky line.
At any place and under any condition any building or part of building projecting above the surrounding construction levels should be finished on all sides down to the height of the adjacent buildings and in cases of extreme height should be isolated and finished on all sides to the ground. This isolation should be sufficient for beauty, for light and for fire protection.
In certain business blocks the buildings should harmonize with each other. If a building is standing and a neighboring one is to be built, the last should be made to harmonize with the first, even as to the alignment of molds in the various stories, although there may occur modifying circumstances which would make for better harmony be doing otherwise.
There should never be an unfinished building wall, rear or party wall, allowed. This is the greatest barrier to real beauty in any town and is the curse of art in American cities. How would a tree look covered with beautiful foliage in front and stuffed out with rags in the back?
This sounds absurd, and yet because of the unfortunate property laws, the buildings on our finest streets suggest various slices of Christmas cakes, side by side with the frosting and decorations all turned toward the audience. Possibly a neutral strip(13) could be reserved around all lots sold, or the buildings not allowed to cover the whole lot,- but whatever the legal solution, if a building rises above its neighbors the extension should be finished in the same manner and material as the part exposed to the street.
Along the boulavards [sic], and in the center of the double boulavards [sic], there should be a systematic treatment. If the buildings are not of uniform height the higher buildings should balance each other in some symmetrical manner. If a man wanted to have more stories than the average, he would have to buy(14) one of the lots on which a high building would be allowed.
All of these and other restrictions are not only for the expensive parts of the city and the prominent features in the landscape, but the poor quarters, shop and factory districts need the same care.
During the building up process the modern town is a night mare [sic]. To facilitate the work of the engineer and real estate man every vestige of whatever was there is cut off and shaved down, the hills leveled and gulleys filled. On land thus prepared sprout shacks and sheds, refuse, billboards, and temporary rubbish of all kinds and the place is "being improved".
The ideal new City(15), after it has its plan, needs the landscape artist and the landscape gardener.
On the Federal City site things will grow which in Europe would be impossible.(16)
Allow no tree or bush to be cut until that special spot is needed, -run a street around a beautiful tree rather than sacrifice the tree. And then plant whatever the accepted plan says to plant,- and where the plan says houses put more trees. They can be thinned out when necessary and in the meantime the bare spaces will be finished. When the town is well begun it will look finished and whether it has twenty five thousand or twenty five hundred thousand people will be immaterial if no raw edges show.
We have given special attention and study to the placing and developement [sic] of the Railroad Station and Parliament House sites, but any drawing on so small a scale must be crude and ultimately the Workman's Quarters, Freight Yards, University, arrangement of street car lines, each little neighborhood and civic center, every conjunction of radiating streets, and every change from curve to straight or round, needs the same conscientious study and care when the time comes. Our main plan needs a lot more study.-should have been re-made from the beginning if time had allowed.
As to general arrangement:-
We have put freight and car yards in the flat above the town where also would be gas plants, power plants, and all features that should be to the windward. In the depression to the south are all factories, shops and warehouses, leading up to workmen's residence sections on hill slopes on either side. Strict regulations should keep residence and factory sections separate, on account of carting etc.
The workmen's playground is in the flood area across and in the bend of the river. By holding back water at rocky bar, aquatic sports can be added to the list of possible amusements. Here will be club houses, athletic grounds, pleasure resorts and libraries etc.
From the freight stations run a fan shaped set of railway spurs flanked by sheds, these separated by streets leading to main wagon yard which is planted by protecting trees.(17)
There(18) should be no teaming in the City proper. All freight for city goes from freight stations over [a] network of underground tracks. While building is going on no material need be delivered on streets or stored on sidewalks and streets. the material for a certain construction is stored in its special place in the freight warehouse or storage quarter and delivered underground as needed,- either in the building itself or at the nearest distribution center. All goods for stores etc. are delivered in the basement itself.
This arrangement, eradicating surface trucking, makes it possible to pave the city beautifully, even ornamentally, as in Verona, for example. The price of the tunnels will be paid by saving in repairs.
The railroad enters the City from the southeastern corner. At a certain point outside of town the passenger train is switched from the main track and crosses the river bed on an elevated road, which gradually ascends to the tunnel through the hill beyond.
The railroad station is located outside of the business City proper and at the same time gives to the entering traveler a commanding view of the principal features, such as(19) Cathedral, Opera, Parliament, University, etc., and he can see at once where he is going.(20)
The whole town centers toward the(21) Station. In front of the station is a plaza which is the hub of radiating avenues leading to all parts of the city.
The plaza is perforated with circular openings surrounded by monumental balustrades and framed by stairways and elevators leading down to the lower level where the car lines center and loop.
Departing travelers arrive at the station on the ground floor if by train, the tramways entering under arches which support the upper level.
the center of each loop of rails is a sunken garden, lighted and viewed from above through the round balustraded openings in the upper plaza floor.
The general waiting room is a large rotunda open to the sky in the middle and surrounded inside by a wide gallery opening through arches into the upper plaza.
Automobiles and carriages enter over the outer circle of the upper plaza and ascend to a mezzanine level behind the waiting room, a half story above the ticket offices.
The ticket offices, bureaus etc., are on the level of the main plaza and the rotunda balconies and lead direct to bridges over the tracks whence short flights of steps descend to trains.
The baggage is lifted by a combination of elevator and crane, carried above the cars and lowered to baggage rooms under the ticket offices.
Connected with the station are the offices of railroad administration.
Beyond the main station is a secondary freight station for distribution in the north end of town.
From the station a boulevard leads to the Parliament group. To this we have given special attention, to illustrate the manner of attacking such a problem. the location was chosen because of its accessibility and commanding situation.
The T shaped hill top suggests the shape of the building, the rotunda with flanking wings in front, the offices and departments forming the long part of the T.
The architecture of this group would of course harmonize with the main buildings, modified by the nature of use to which the sections were to be put.
They are entered from the rear by elevators from tramway [lines?] on [the] street below.
Across the avenue at the rear the shape of the ground indicated the amphitheatre for out of door meetings.
The hill being already wooded, makes possible a finished composition from the start, portions for formal parking being cleared as needed.
In the hills back of the Parliament Houses are residences for officials.
Steps and terraces lead down from front of Parliament House to the flat below. This part of the flood area should be kept free from large obstructions. In the birds eye view it looks bare, the scale being too small to detail. In reality it will be made interesting in many ways. It is intended for demonstrations of large public nature and can accommodate a million people if necessary,-pagents [sic], public meeting etc., it must be practically unobstructed.
In and alone [i.e., along] the double boulevard leading southeast from this plaza are the departments and other Government accessories.
The hill slope from Parliament Houses south to flood line is for buildings for other branches of Government activity, including a special building for government festivities etc., leading down to recreation grounds, and stadium in flood space below.
This again leads naturally into the portion of flood land west of Parliament Hill which is the playground and drillground of the military which we have located tentatively in the river bend sout[h] of "Sullivan", Officers' homes being in the hills to the north and north east.
Across the river is the University, with its various branches, Law, Medicine etc., the larger buildings in the foreground, the smaller and less monumental in the rear. The experimental gardens and playgrounds in the flood section culminating in the bridge opposite the stadium which would be the national game center,-Professors' residence district on hills back of the University.
The bluffs along the south side of the river can be treated as wonderfully as those of the Villa Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore.
Hold back the water above Rocky Bar Rapids, pile up terraces, walls, tall trees and vines, and the most stunning views around Lake Como can be excelled.
Between the University district and the Residence Section are sheltered slopes suitable for Hospitals, Old People's Homes etc.
Whether this is the best place for these things or not the segregation of things of a kind makes for harmony. Kindred use developes [sic] similar appearance and groups make themselves.
The residence section shows for itself. Parks, playgrounds, hill boulevards, schools, public and private, will take their places as time goes on.
An essential is of course that there should be no possibility of having a restaurant or "moving picture show" building where it does not belong. Public and semi-public buildings are in certain places only, and every body knows before he builds just what sort of thing his neighbor will be
Such a law is a guarantee to business men who invest.
Of this section of the town of course the Cathedral is the climax.
It is impossible to fore tell [sic] the location of all possible churches, of course they must be isolated and park surrounded.
The rest of the town is for business in its various aspects. Mt. Vernon with the Mint is the banking center.
Outside flood lines along the river will from place to place be prominebt [i.e. prominent] public buildings according to the interests of the locality.
One thing more:- In the modern wholesale way we have of doing things we feel impatient to see things finished right away. Accordingly some of us would like to see a cut and dried plan of everything to begin with,-elevations and all. This is not necessary or wise. Oxford is probably the most beautiful place in the world and it took years to grow. The effort should be not to look nice and new and shiny, but to keep from looking so.
The New(22) City's greatest enemy is the half fledged architect who is so jealous of his cleverness that he will allow no tree or bush within a mile of his precious masterpiece lest some of its beauties be not seen.(23)
The Federal(24) City should be the garden spot of the world. Trees, vines, bushes over the Railroad Station, Opera House, Parliament Buildings, Workmens' Quarters, on all streets, balconies, lamp posts,-everywhere.
Where once we put a statue, where some ornament was needed, put a box with trees and bushes. Only one law is absolute; ten times what seems enough is too little.
We owe an apology to your Committee for sending in such drawings so unworthily rendered. The dignity of the competition demands the best a man can give. This apparent carelessness does not mean however that we have not given the subject long and serious thought, but only that in the end we were too hurried to do beautiful drawing.
We believe if you have the patience to search under mussy lines that you may find something worth while.(25)[The pages to follow were typed on a different machine and are separately numbered beginning with an unnumbered page 1. There can be no doubt that it was prepared by Professor Charles Gilman Hyde of University of California, Berkeley. He was an eminent expert on municipal water supply and sewerage disposal to whom Maybeck turned for engineering advice.]Architectural and Engineering Treatment of Molonglo River
and Tributary Water Courses
Within the Limits of the Federal City
Regulation of Flow.
It is understood that large impounding reservoirs will be constructed on the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers some 14 miles above, or up-stream from, the site of the City. In these the waters of floods will be collected and stored and from them they will be released in such fashion that in the future no great flood waves or freshets need be expected to pass through the City.
There can be no question as to the importance of such regulation. If great channels were required of a capacity sufficient to pass the flow of the river resulting from excessive storms, such as will occur from time to time, it is evident that either the central portion of the City must be disfigured by wide bare stretches reserved for such water courses or else very large sums of money must be expended to provide suitable regulating and controlling weirs within the City itself. On the other hand, if the storm waters can be so regulated that the maximum flow in the channel of the Molonglo River through the City shall be no greater than a few hundred second-feet, it will be possible to develop a design in every way artistic and satisfactory. The project herewith submitted assumes the regulation of the river within some such general limits.
This matter of stream regulation and control is so vitally essential to the truly successful treatment of the entire project that there should be inaugurated at once a systematic program of stream gaugings and storage studies on the basis of which definite conclusions respecting the proper solution of this problem may be drawn.
Bodies of comparatively quiet ornamental water are proposed from the central portion of the City to the extreme easterly limits. These will be created by two low weirs: one (a) beneath or in the immediate vicinity of the bridge on the great boulevard joining the Houses of Parliament and the Cathedral; the other (b) at the rocky bar just up-stream from a straight line joining Rottenbury and Ainslie trigonometrical stations. The water level produced by the lower weir would be of sufficient elevation to back well up upon the second or up-stream weir. In the central part of the City the course of the stream would be straightened somewhat as shown in the design thus making available for building or other purposes, in one piece, a considerable tract of low land situated south east of the Houses of Parliament. By excavating a second channel easterly from the site of the upper weir across the peninsula, an exquisite body of water may be produced and an island of attractive possibilities formed. On this island, which may be made very beautiful by suitable planting, concessions for various amusement enterprises may be granted. Water elevations in these pools will be controlled through the proper design of the weir crests and the use of needle, rolling or other gates, if necessary.
Rectification of Lower Channel.
From the central portion of the City westerly, in other words below the lower weir just described, it is proposed that the river be confined between properly constructed levees or protected banks thereby permitting the low-lying areas now subject to overflow during floods to be reclaimed. The proper width of channel and height of levees, if any are needed, can only be determined from a full knowledge respecting the maximum volume of water which will require to be taken care of.
The military drill ground, stadium, etc., provided for by the design in the west central and westerly portions of the City could be located elsewhere and by means of a weir thrown across the river channel at a site in line between trigonometrical stations Shale and Sullivan a large lake could be created. The regulation of the water surface in this lake could be accomplished in the manner designated for the ornamental pools of water in the east central and easterly portions of the City.
such tributary water courses as Jerrbomberra Creek and the stream flowing south-westerly along the south-easterly base of Black Mountain, in their lower stretches, may also require to be confined to a relatively small channel by levees or protected embankments.
Results of River Regulation and Rectification.
The treatment above indicated will provide large areas of land in the south easterly portion of the City suitable for factories and wholesale markets, abatoirs [sic], power houses, gas works, refuse incinerator, etc. In the west central portion of the City such reclaimed lands may be used for the great stadium, as shown in the general design, and here and elsewhere the tracts below the present flood level, so reclaimed, will be found extremely useful for all sorts of semi-permanent constructions such as places of amusement, baths, public play grounds, etc. however, this territory, at least in part, may be converted into a lake, if desired, as noted above.
General Adaptability of Site to Sewerage
Speaking generally the proposed site for the Federal City lends itself admirably to an extremely satisfactory and not unduly expensive solution of the sewerage problem. Early in the development of the plans for this magfigicant [sic] City it will be necessary to undertake a comprehensive study of the entire sewerage problem with especial reference (a) to the type of system which should be adopted, (b) to the best location and elevation of treatment works and (c) to the degree of purification, both of storm waters and of domestic and industrial wastes, which may be desirable.
It is understood that the sewage of the City will be carried by gravity to treatment works which will be located on land having an elevation of approximately 1800 feet above datum and distant about 6 miles in a westerly direction from Camp Hill trigonometrical station. A review of the topographical and other conditions within the limits of the Capital City indicates that it would be of great advantage if the sewage could be treated on land lying somewhat lower than 1800 feet. If for example a tract of land could be obtained for the site of the treatment works at an elevation not greater than, say, 1775 feet it would probably be possible to carry to that point the sewage of the entire City without local or general pumping. If, however, it is necessary that the sewage be treated on lands elevated as much as 1800 feet above datum the sewage from certain lower districts in the City will require to be locally pumped.
Type of Sewerage System Proposed.
From the date and information now at hand it appears that the sewerage problem for the Capital City will be best solved, at least for a considerable period in the future, and from the point of view of cost of construction most cheaply solved, if a so-called separate system is introduced: in other words, if the great bulk of the storm water discharge is separated from the domestic and industrial wastes and disposed of independently. The following out line of sewerage works assumes that a separate system of sewerage will be introduced. It is suggested that the sanitary sewers be designed to receive a certain amount of storm water representing the first flush of storms, as well as the domestic and industrial wastes which such sewers usually carry exclusively. this first flush of storms contains a far greater proportion of organic putrescible material than does the later run-off from streets and other areas in cities and if discharged directly into the river, especially into pooled waters, might cause a nuisance and be objectionable from a sanitary standpoint.
Main Intercepting Sewer.
If the treatment works were located at or below elevation 1775, as suggested above, the entire sewage flow from the City could in all probability be carried to them without difficulty. In such case the main or trunk sewer s[h]ould follow closely along the south bank of the Molonglo River at such elevation that all parts of the City, even the lowest areas, would be directly served thereby by gravity. Assuming, however, that the treatment works must be located at elevation 1800, as stated on page 9 of the book of information respecting the competitive designs for the Federal Capital City, the system of sewerage to be described forthwith has been projected.
From the assumed location of the treatment works, a trunk or outfall sewer would be brought by the most direct possible route to the westerly limits of the City. It would appear that directness and economy of construction may be realized by building certain parts of this outfall sewer in tunnel thereby shortening the distance very materially. Thus, only slightly more than four miles of outfall sewer might be required from the west boundary of the City to the site of the treatment works in question. From the westerly boundary of the City the sewer would, in a rough general way as indicated on the main design, follow along the south bank of the Molonglo River. In order to save distance and cost at least one tunnel would be employed along this line and at several points the sewer would be carried in embankment. this main intercepting sewer would terminate in the extreme south-easterly portion of the City. Into it all of the territory to the south would drain by gravity or without pumping and without any apparent difficulties of design or construction.
Secondary Intercepting Sewers
A comprehensive study of the sewerage problem requires that the site of the Federal City be divided into sub-districts following the present general lines of surface drainage. In each of these several sub-districts the sewage as well as the storm wastes would probably be concentrated at some one point. In the territory lying south of the proposed main intercepting sewer considerable latitude in the arrangement of these sub-districts is possible. In the territory north of this sewer, however, particularly in that portion lying north of the river, more or less restriction is offered by the natural and artificial conditions imposed.
Secondary intercepting sewers may be constructed to deliver into the main intercepting sewer by gravity, serving practically all of the area north of the river and east of a north and south line through trigonometrical station "Vernon" and lying above elevation 1830-1840, according to the distance from the point of concentration in any district. These high level secondary interceptors would deliver into the main intercepting sewer across the river through inverted syphons.
Some consideration must be given to the question of how much of the territory lying north of the river and west of the north and south line passing through trignometrical station "Vernon" may be served by gravity. From such studies as have been made upon this point, it would appear that very little, if any, of this territory would be so served. The main sewers in the sub-districts in this general territory might concentrate the sewage flow at certain points where ornamental pumping stations, operated by electricity from a central plant, would be located and would force the sewage into the main intercepting sewer.
Storm Water Sewerage.
Information which would serve as a basis for the detailed lay out of storm water sewers within the Federal City is entirely lacking. If the first flush of storms is received in the main intercepting sewer, which should be designed sufficiently large for this purpose, it would appear that all other storm waters collected within the City limits could be discharged without difficulty or nuisance through suitable storm water overflows directly into the channel of the Molonglo River. At all overflows discharging into ornamental water, it may be necessary to construct silt basins to collect such materials as would tend to form deposits in bodies of still water. In this connection it may be said that if the river itself carrier very much sand or silt it may be necessary to provide sluice gates near the bottoms of each of the proposed weirs. if such are necessary it is possible that silt basins at points of storm overflow into these ornamental bodies of water may be omitted.
Eventually, when the City is well developed and more or less densely populated, it may be found advantageous to construct along the river on one or both banks storm water interceptors which shall deliver all of the storm water collected in the City into the Molonglo River below the lowest weir.
The provision of alleys in all blocks, both residential and business, offers an opportunity for the underground location of all sewers, water pipes, gas pipes, electric lighting and service conduits, telephone and telegraph lines, etc., without the necessity of excavating in main streets and boulevards except where these are crossed by such lines. In these alleys it is proposed that all lateral sewers will be located.
It is understood that the public water supply will be available within the City area below elevation 2150. The program of development of the City under this design calls for no buildings requiring water service above elevation 2000 or at most elevation 2100. The proposed design is believed to lend itself extremely well to an efficient distribution of the water supply both for ordinary purposes and for fire protection. Roughly speaking, the portions of the City which would represent the most inflammable construction, namely the factory and market districts, and perhaps to a less extent the business district, are so located that they will naturally receive the highest water pressure. High pressure fire protection service reaching all important parts of the City may be had through mains laid in the great diagonal boulevards between and around which would be the areas served from such trunk lines.
Power House, Markets, etc.
It is suggested that great power house of pleasing architectural design be constructed to occupy the south-easterly apex of the great diamond whose north-westerly apex is comprised of the Houses of Parliament and whose coordinate angles would be occupied on the northeast by the great railway station and on the southwest by the Cathedral. At this power house electrical energy for lighting the streets, driving the Federally owned tramways, pumping the sewage from low lying areas and performing the multitudinous services required of electricity in a great City would be constructed. Here also might be located the refuse incinerator. In this immediate vicinity the gas works would naturally be locate.
It is especially fitting that the industrial establishments, wholesale markets, abatoirs, [sic] etc., should be located in this section of the City in as much as all winds practically throughout the year come from other quarters and, therefore, would tend to drive away from rather than carry to the City the smoke, fumes, gases, odors, etc., produced by these industrial and other establishments.
The present design does not contemplate the composite use of structures. For instance, dwellings will be used for residential purposes only: store building will be given over simply to mercantile interests. In this way the tendency will be formed to separate quite distinctly the commercial and from the residential districts and to concentrate the latter along certain definite lines.
To these somewhat restricted commercial and business districts and to the great public structures such as the Houses of Parliament, Government Printing office and the like, it is proposed that all heavy, unsightly and bulky materials be conveyed by electrically propelled cars or trains in tunnels. these tunnels would be tunnels in fact wherever streets are crossed but in alleys and parkways they would be open overhead for purposes of lighting and ventilation. The project provides for a complete system of these tunnels. River crossings can be accomplished by the use of depressed steel tubes reinforced by concrete exterior coatings and interior linings. the entire system should be Federally owned and operated, charges for service being made according to the weight of freight handled.
Notes provided by JWR
1. At the top of this page in ms are these words: "now for some general suggestions." The word "ideal" is lined through. Above it in ms is a word that may be "checkered" Elsewhere on this page are small pencil sketches illustrating triangular sites, the plan of a block with its alley, an arched entrance to an alley, and two others that are too faint on the copy to make out.
2. Before the first five words were lined through the sentence read: "In our plan we have intersected blocks by alleys in both directions."
3. The first part of this sentence originally read "In some sections we have indicated rectangular, etc. etc." In the margin at the left is a ms sketch of a block divided by an alley and an interior block court.
4. Over this last word is "springs" in ms.
5. Above these words in ms is written what may be "Trestle gum" but is essentially illegible.
6. The words in brackets have been added in ms
7. The first four words are in ms above a lined through phrase reading "This section in the."
8. Above this in ms is "public."
9. Maybeck left blank the space between these pairs of parentheses. For the first, the location of the Cathedral, Maybeck must have meant Camp Hill, the location shown on his plan for a "Church."
10. The previous two paragraphs have been crossed out on the typescript. However, so have the previous two and one-half pages although it seems unlikely that this text was omitted from any version transmitted to Australia with the plan.
11. This and the paragraph to follow have been crossed out in pencil. Above the first line of the page is written in ms "Do not cut down little hills."
12. "treasury" has been added in ms.
13. "neutral strip" is underlined in ms and above this two illegible words were written.
14. this last word is crossed out and the "get" written above in ms.
15. Above this is a word that appears to be "remodeled."
16. This paragraph is crossed out.
17. The preceding five paragraphs have been crossed out.
18. Two illegible ms words appear in the margin and the indentation before "There."
19. These two words are added in ms.
20. This and the preceding paragraph have been crossed out.
21. Above in ms are the letters "R.R.."
22. Crossed out and the word "remodeled" inserted above in ms.
23. All of page 22 has been crossed out with a page-size "X".
24. "Federal" is crossed out and "remodeled California" entered above in ms.
25. The last two paragraphs are crossed out.
Selected, transcribed, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org To Top of Page To Homepage