Discover the captivating stories behind a few of the art world’s most famous and enduring friendships.
In the often-solitary life of an artist, it is rare to find a trustworthy peer to take on the role of confidante. And there’s a good reason why: critique, both internal and from others, is a never-ending obsession for an artist, whose livelihood is dependent on the personal outpouring of their craft. Indeed, it takes a very special sort of friendship between artists to persist through the highs and lows of their unique lifestyles and to overcome professional jealousy, easily bruised feelings, and, at times, differing opinions on what makes good art.
Robert P. Madison fought in World War II in Italy as a proud member of the historic Buffalo Soldiers, the all-African-American unit of the U.S. Army that traces its lineage back to the Civil War. Second Lieutenant Madison was wounded in combat and received a purple heart, but when he returned to civilian life in 1946, eager to resume his education at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) in Cleveland, his application was summarily denied simply because he was black.
A few days later, Madison returned in his full dress uniform with his purple heart and, shamed and under duress, administrators grudgingly admitted him to the university even though some whispered, “you will never be an architect.”
It was one of the many times that Madison, now 96, was underestimated during a life that created social change—Madison became the first African-American architect in Ohio, only the 10th in the nation, and eventually was named president of the Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Source: Legacy Award Winner Robert P. Madison Knocks Down Barriers for Minority Architects | 2020-01-14
Central Park Tower by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (New York City)Designing a skyscraper in New York is an experience unlike building in nearly any other city in the world. The combination of architectural history, coupled with the sheer volume of foot traffic walking past (and flying above) buildings in the Big Apple, makes their presence a vital part of the city’s identity. So when the Chicago-based architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill was tapped to design the Central Park Tower, it recognized the sky-high expectations.
Slated to be completed in 2020, Central Park Tower will be a shocking 1,549 feet tall, making it the second-tallest skyscraper in the United States and the Western Hemisphere (behind One World Trade Center), the 15th-tallest building in the world, and the tallest residential building in the world. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, however, is no stranger to working at these heights. The firm is responsible for extending the skyline in the Middle East with such structures as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.
Yet, unlike those aforementioned locations, no matter the height, building in New York brings on a whole new host of challenges. “New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world,” says Gordon Gill, a founding member of the firm. “And much of this comes from its beautiful architecture. Understanding that and trying to design a building that will retain its own stature within that context has been a great opportunity. Contributing to New York’s skyline at that scale and becoming part of that legacy is a defining moment for any architect.
That doesn’t happen every day.” The structure consists of 179 luxury residences, while at the base, Nordstrom’s will house its seven-floor flagship store. The location, on 57th Street between Columbus Circle and the Plaza District, means occupants will have uninhibited views of Central Park to the north. In the past, travelers arrived to New York (by car and air) would be greeted by dominating structures such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Now we can add Central Park Tower to that exclusive list of buildings that stand out upon first experience.