Peter Van Dijk has worked as an architect in Cleveland since arriving in the city in 1961. In this 2006 interview, he talks about some of the architectural renovation projects on which he has worked, including the Huntington Bank restoration and his work in preserving the theaters at Playhouse Square. Van Dijk shares his general thoughts on Cleveland's architecture and development, lamenting the city's development mistakes and stressing that Cleveland's many assets have been misused. Missed opportunities in the Erieview urban renewal project and University Circle - among others - draw criticism from Van Dijk, who offers alternative plans and options for future development.
Van Dijk, Peter (interviewee)
Gibans, Nina (interviewer); Yanoshik-Wing, Emma (participant)
American Institute of Architects
"Peter van Dijk Interview, 31 August 2006" (2006). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 951011.
Transcription sponsored by Leonard & Betty Boesger
Nina Gibans [00:00:00] August 31, 2006, and we're at Peter van Dijk's home, and he is the subject for today's interview. And do I have to say I'm me? I'm Nina Gibans. There are about 250 of these that have been done so far, so keeping track is really important.
Peter van Dijk [00:00:19] Oh, yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:00:20] You wouldn't want to be known as somebody else, would you?
Peter van Dijk [00:00:23] Number 251.
Nina Gibans [00:00:25] So I'm delighted that you're excited by doing this and I think you'll be terrific. So why don't we start? We have a piece of paper in front of us about your four paragraphs, but you're much bigger than that. You know.
Peter van Dijk [00:00:42] Well.
Nina Gibans [00:00:43] In a lifetime.
Peter van Dijk [00:00:43] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:00:43] And so I want to start, though, because you obviously have never talked about where you came from and how, where you grew up. How you got into architecture. So let's talk about that first.
Peter van Dijk [00:00:59] Okay. Well, I'm a Dutch kid and actually, I'm a Shell Oil Company brat. My parents were from Holland and I was born in the Dutch East Indies, which is now Indonesia. When my dad was there on assignment for Shell as a young engineer and lived there only for a couple of years to the point where I don't even remember it. This was in 1929 and '30 and so on. So I'm 77 years old now. And then we moved from there briefly to Holland for another assignment, which turned out to be Maracaibo, Venezuela, which is in western Venezuela. And that's where all the oil is in Venezuela. Around Lake Maracaibo. And that's really where I grew up in a Shell Oil Company colony of about 50 families outside of Maracaibo compound. Much as you would find in Saudi Arabia, where an American oil company, Aramco, would have their American people. These are mostly Dutch people. We had our own school. We had a wonderful sort of tropical-style clubhouse. A beautiful swimming pool. That's why I am a lifelong swimmer. It was summer all year long. I had two subsequent younger brothers, each two years apart. And we lived there for about twelve years with every three years a trip to Holland as a foreign leave sort of a refresher and get out of the tropics kind of thing, et cetera. The last time we were in Holland was in 1939, the summer of 1939, with the intention that I and my next younger brother would stay in boarding school to get a proper education back in the home country, so to speak. And that summer, while vacationing on the German Luxembourg border, it got pretty nervous and, and the war was about to start. At which point, we raced back to Holland. All our relatives said, don't worry about it. Holland is a neutral country because they had survived the first World War without getting involved. And they said, don't worry about it. Just go to boarding school. Your folks can go back to South America. They were scheduled to go back in late November anyway at the last minute, my folks decided to take us with them because the war had started on September 1st. In fact, tomorrow is the anniversary, and so German and English planes flying over Holland, you never knew what was going to happen. So we moved back to South America with my parents, you know, of course, and then they decided to send us to Curacao, my brother and I. Which is just over the horizon from Venezuela, Dutch territory where I started high school for the eighth, ninth grades, and stuff. And then during World War II, when I was 14, we were transferred to New York with the idea that my dad would move to Holland as soon as the war was over. And this was about 1944 or so. So we lived supposedly temporarily in New York and moved out to Westchester County to Larchmont, went to Mamaroneck High School, which, by the way, is where Steven Litt went Mamaroneck High School I found out later. And after a couple of years there, Shell said, okay, Van Dijk family, you're going to Holland now. The war had terminated and whereupon my mom said, you know, these three boys are becoming Americans now. They're in an American school. They're adapting to that. It's going to be a real hardship to send them to school in Holland because they're pretty rigorous schools over there. Whereupon, Shell said, we're a big company. We'll keep you here. So we decided to stay at least for a while, not necessarily to become citizens, but we did take out immigration papers. But the idea that if and when we decide to become Americans, we did. So that's how we stayed in America. Just pure chance.
Nina Gibans [00:05:51] Now in Mamaroneck, so Mamaroneck is the neighborhood that you're now talking about?
Peter van Dijk [00:05:56] Yeah. Mamaroneck High School. But I was only there two years at the most, you see.
Nina Gibans [00:06:01] Right.
Peter van Dijk [00:06:03] And then, I went to Cornell briefly for two years not knowing what I wanted to really study. Because, because of my Dutch schooling, unfortunately, they had moved me two grades ahead because I'd had all these subjects. Yet I really was missing a lot of things from an American education, especially English literature and things like that. And was probably some kind of geek, you know, that wasn't wearing the same kind of clothes as American kids. And, so luckily, I was a very good swimmer, so I immediately had camaraderie on a swim team and that kind of thing. And so anyway, I went to Cornell during the wartime expedited program, which was still going on where you do a year and a half's work in a year. And I chose electrical engineering because I was fascinated with the jet planes that were just coming online. You know, the idea of a jet plane? I would just I, I read everything about them. My dad, who a couple of times traveled to England on business even during the war, brought me all this stuff from there. It was really developed in England. Major Frank Whittle invented the turbine engine, but General Electric and, and Westinghouse built those kinds of things, so you've got to be an electrical engineer. So, however, after my second, after my sophomore year, I had just turned 18. I said, you know, I don't think I want to be an engineer. And I had met a fellow student that was in architecture, and I was fascinated by that. And then said, I'm going to take a year off just to catch up because I'm so darn young anyway. You know, here I'd finish two years of college at the, by the time I was 18, so I went to work for an architect in New Rochelle, New York. A one-man office who was a wonderful man. I mean, he took a great interest in me. And then another whole long story where my folks ended up. There they are. Moving to California for a while. Whereupon I, I went to the University of Oregon. Very excellent architecture school. I had a full scholarship.
Nina Gibans [00:08:31] Should we stop because of the airplane?
Peter van Dijk [00:08:35] It's a...
Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:08:37] I mean, it's going to be and it's going to be background noise [crosstalk] anyway, and the mic is close enough where it's not interfering,
Peter van Dijk [00:08:42] Okay, good.
Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:08:43] It's definitely audible.
Peter van Dijk [00:08:44] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:08:44] Oh, okay.
Peter van Dijk [00:08:47] I hope so. So anyway, then I end up going to the University of Oregon to study architecture. And as I say, they'd given me a full scholarship mainly for swimming, and I had a job working in the infirmary. So it was all a pretty nice deal. The minute I got out of school, though, the draft board was waiting for me. It was the Korean War and the draft board didn't understand that architecture is a five-year course. And you've already been in school four years and it's time to come. But I, I and other architects convinced the draft board no architecture is a five-year curriculum. But nevertheless, within a week of graduating, I was in the army at the end of the Korean War, actually. And ended up in the south at Fort Bragg, first with the 82nd airborne North Carolina, and met a fellow architect. We were not officers. We were not in the officer's core. We're just draftees. You know, I had no rank at all. Private clean sleeve that was called, you know, with nothing. And but I, I met another architect and we became good friends. You know, misery loves company when you're in the army, so to speak. And anyway, we were together on most of our assignments. And by the time after two years, it was time to come out of the army. My friend Ted Kurtz, who is now a Cleveland architect, you probably know him.
Nina Gibans [00:10:23] Lives in South Carolina?
Peter van Dijk [00:10:23] Yeah, yeah, he I said, Ted, what are you going to do? And I said, I'm going back to Portland or Seattle and get a job. You know, we've wasted two years in the army. We had five years of architecture and all this. And he said, No, I'm going back to grad school. I thought grad school what the heck's that, you know? I mean grad? Come on. You know, architects weren't thinking of grad school in those days. He says, no, it's a good idea, especially because we've been kind of out of it for a while. So I just applied to a bunch of grad schools. And ended up taking my GI bill and went to M.I.T., which was a fabulous stroke of luck because here I was some hick from Oregon so to speaking Fort Bragg, South Carolina [Note: North Carolina], and you come to Boston and with Harvard and M.I.T. there together with their incredible resources and faculty and students from all over the world in your class. You know, it was an incredible year. In fact, our assigned professor was Louis Kahn, the great Louis Khan. You know, I didn't even know who he was. That walked in there, but a tremendous influence, so to speak. And then that led to being recommended by the Dean Fred Trubeluski who is another famous architect who was a dean at M.I.T. He recommended me to Eero Saarinen to where Eero, Eero had come to Cambridge, and he says, I want to pick about four people, so I'll take two from M.I.T. and two from Harvard. And he chose me as one of them. And meanwhile, I knew Norm Perttula was in Harvard and he was the well a Harvard guy. It's it's so, so we went to work in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for Eero Saarinen, which was like, like a super super graduate school again. His office was relatively small, 40 people, 20 that were sort of in design and 20 that were doing production work. And they were also a wonderful collection of talented young people from everywhere, from all over America and from Europe and Japan.
Nina Gibans [00:12:38] Can you name some of them?
Peter van Dijk [00:12:39] Well, Cesar Pelli, Robert Venturi, Warren Platner, who designed a lot of the furniture I have here, many of them who became sort of chief architect of all the big offices, Paul Kennon became head of Caudill Rowlett Scott. Dave Hoedemaker head of NBBJ. Those are huge firms now. And so and in all various parts of the country, you'll find sort of the premier architect in Minneapolis, Lenny Parker, who was one of our guys. You know, the main guy in Seattle. Dave Hoedemaker and so. Those alumni from the Saarinen office have gone on to with the legacy of Eero. Then again, how life is a bunch of forks in the road and little accidents that happen. You know how you meet your wife, how you ended up going to grad school and things like that. By pure chance, somebody found me from Cleveland to come here to design the federal building. What had happened was back in 1960, the government GSA decided to build a major federal building that was a huge project in those days. It was $32 million, which in those days was a lot of money. And instead of giving it to one firm, they gave it to three firms, three firms that were all competitors of each other. One of them was Shafer Flynn, which is what the predecessors of my present firm. The other was Dalton and Dalton. Cal Dalton. And the other was Outcalt Guenther. Dick Outcalt. And those three firms formed Cleveland Federal Building Architects and had a wonderful office in the Arcade. And they were going to staff it with people from their offices. Each was going to contribute, you know, ten or twelve people. And then it came to who's going to design it? And the Outcalt called said, well, we'll design it. And Shaeffer, you'll do the drawings. And Cal, obviously, you'll do the engineering. And Cal says, no way. We'll design it and you do this and that. And then Shaeffer said, wait a minute, you know, I'm not going to be left out. And so they said it came to an impasse and decided, well, maybe we should associate with a big name. In those days, it wasn't common to have these architects brought in, you know. Nowadays, you have to have somebody from wherever Japan or London or what all. But they did talk about Edward Durell Stone or Yamasaki, who were names. I don't think Sarrinen's name came up. At least not from what I've heard and evidently that died out. But the next thing was, why don't we hire somebody that's worked for one of these people that has good experience and set them up here and let him or her run the thing? And it was in that way that somebody found me and Cal Dalton asked me to come down and I interviewed with the partners and so and decided to come to Cleveland. And actually, Cal said, Cal Dalton said there are two jobs available. One would be to be the chief designer of my firm, Dalton and Dalton, because Don Hisaka is going to leave us and start his own. He was their chief designer, excellent architect, you know, and or he said you could do the federal building thing and see how you like Cleveland for two or three years and then we'll see what happens after that. And I decided I'd do the latter just to see if I liked Cleveland, which, by the way, I did. I immediately saw the opportunity here in Cleveland. First, it was a wonderful city.
Nina Gibans [00:16:46] So we're in 1960?
Peter van Dijk [00:16:49] '61. Yeah, and right about the same time, Eero Saarinen died also. So actually, Cal said to me, since you're taking the federal building job, do you have anybody you could recommend? So I recommended Norm Perttula to take that job, and he's been here ever since. And then I said, may I bring in two of my own people because I didn't know what I was getting. Frankly, I was getting pretty much the dregs of the offices, you know, they were just going to make some money off of this job, see. So I brought Ted Kurtz and a colleague of mine at Oregon, an outstanding architect. Doug Anawalt and three of us spent two and a half years doing the federal building job, which turned out very successfully, at least for the, for the three firms, you know, which was a good experience. And then each of them asked me to join them, each of the three firms. And I chose Gil Shafer's firm, mostly because it was a fine old firm, but it was sort of dying. It had been founded in 1905, had wonderful connections. In those days, that was mostly social connections of Cleveland. No Union Club and that kind of thing. Cal Dalton's firm, much as I loved Cal Dalton. He had two brothers that were sort of no good nothing, you know, they were just a drag on the office and the rest was mostly engineers. And Outcalt's firm, even though I respected the Outcalt. It was a big blowhard kind of businessman and all that kind of big Dick Outcalt, you see. And I thought, hey, Gil really wants me. In fact, Gil said to me, Pete, I really don't see who's going to inherit this firm now, but I'd like to have you have a chance and he said I'm going to be retiring in a few years and this could be your firm. So I took that and it turned out to be wonderful. I mean, it was really good because they still had good connection. Alex Robinson, you know, was a former partner, board member of the symphony and things like that. And this led to some wonderful commissions very early in my career, like Ursuline College University School, Blossom Music Center on and on. You know, Cleveland, a lot of Cleveland Clinic kind of work and so. And so again, as I say, my life has been a series of fortuitous intersections I call them. You know, the sort of lucky breaks so to speak and so. Which, I suppose you have to be ready for those things when they come along.
Nina Gibans [00:19:43] Right. Some people don't grab the opportunities when they are sitting right out in front of them.
Peter van Dijk [00:19:45] Yes. One thing I forgot to mention. I did take a year off during my Saarinen time and had a Fulbright to Italy, which was again a terrific break to sort of have an early sabbatical.
Nina Gibans [00:19:58] Right.
Peter van Dijk [00:19:59] And that was great. Great.
Nina Gibans [00:20:02] Fulbright and where in Italy?
Peter van Dijk [00:20:02] At the University of Rome, but it's mainly a traveling grant, you know.
Nina Gibans [00:20:07] Was Chuck Brickbauer there at that time?
Peter van Dijk [00:20:11] No, no.
Nina Gibans [00:20:13] That's Jim's friend? Yeah.
Peter van Dijk [00:20:13] No, this was '59 and '60.
Nina Gibans [00:20:18] So a little early. Yeah. Okay.
Peter van Dijk [00:20:19] There were a couple of Yales or so there was a Bob Clements. Bob Clements was from the Yale, Yale class, about that, they might have been there about the time Jim was maybe a little bit ahead of him. But, it was an incredible experience because there were four of us: three architects and an engineer. And then the, the American Academy had an architect there for the Rome prize, and we were a little group together and our, and our advisor was Bruno Zevi, a very important Italian art and architecture critic who was our mentor. Fixed us up with introductions to everything and. And I got to know important architects and in Italy and my.
Nina Gibans [00:21:07] Alright. So the many influences are many. Really.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:09] Some good ones. Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:21:11] There's a litany of important people.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:14] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:21:14] In your life.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:16] Actually one I should mention, while at University of Oregon, I had a major experience with Buckminster Fuller. He was in residence for a semester and I was the head of a team of 15 guys working with Bucky. We built a giant dome.
Nina Gibans [00:21:35] Classic dome.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:35] And while in Fort Bragg on my weekends, I would go up to North Carolina State, where he was his main home and help out with his students. And so he is a terrific guy. Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:21:49] Well, you need to check some of that out with Jim, who had Louis Kahn.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:55] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:21:56] At Yale.
Peter van Dijk [00:21:56] Oh good. Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:21:57] And a Fulbright in England. And things like that. So, I think there are connectors that nobody's ever really talked about among the architecture people.
Peter van Dijk [00:22:11] Here in town. Yeah, I think so.
Nina Gibans [00:22:14] We have an array of people who were in the major institutions that studied with the major [inaudible] who influenced them.
Peter van Dijk [00:22:25] Actually, no, Norm and I, when we were both at Harvard and M.I.T., in the mornings we worked for Walter Gropius at TAC [The Architects Collaborative]. In those days, you could still have a morning job and then go to school afternoon and half the night.
Nina Gibans [00:22:39] Oh my, oh my.
Peter van Dijk [00:22:41] You know, so I thought I was another.
Nina Gibans [00:22:44] So now you're in Cleveland.
Peter van Dijk [00:22:46] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:22:46] And you're ensconced and you're finished with your first projects. And so. Let's move to some of your perspective on the major special things about Cleveland.
Peter van Dijk [00:23:09] Good. Yeah, because I think Cleveland is very special. Let me say first, what's good about Cleveland. What they've done right. Wait a minute, we're getting another flyby here. Sounds like Beirut. Doesn't it?
Nina Gibans [00:23:32] It's the air show.
Peter van Dijk [00:23:39] Oh, yeah. Cleveland has been, as we all know, one of the really great cities in America, you know, in its day. And I'm not saying that that that's over, but we did so many things well that were pioneering where we were the envy of many other cities in America that looked to Cleveland as to, wow, look what they, they did, you see. Just to describe it physically, of course, we have a beautiful lake and we have a river and which cuts right through the middle of our city. Both potential tremendous assets. Up to now, they haven't been realized as the way they should. But anyway, they're there physically, they're there. I found that the climate is reasonable. You know, if you can get out of here for a couple of weeks in the winter, maybe two one-week vacation spread out during the winter, it's fine. Other than that, I think the weather's wonderful and people say it always rains here. I really haven't noticed. Maybe it's because I spent all those years in Oregon or something. But, and the and the, the quality of life, the cost of living here is, is such a bargain compared to other major locations where you might want to be especially other [big metropolitan] big metropolitan areas and the access to cultural events, sports events, the access to work without too much hassle in terms of hours in the car, et cetera. As I say, there's so much of interest to do here. I mean, it's a big-time town, and yet it's small enough that you can have an influence. Individuals can have an influence and do something here now. Awfully conservative city, unfortunately. And you see that even though the architecture we've inherited is magnificent, it's all eclectic architecture. And none of it is pioneering in the way of a Frank Lloyd Wright building or anything like that that you might find in Detroit or even Buffalo, or certainly in other parts of the world. But, but nevertheless, oh, and the other thing I loved about it is the, the clearly identifiable ethnic neighborhoods. The diversity that we have here. It's certainly reflected in the church spires, and domes, and silhouettes of the buildings of different neighborhoods in town. Me, it makes it very interesting, of course, the bridges and the river and the lake and the gutsiness. It's not a fancy festival mall or anything, you know, sort of real. I thought it had terrific potential. My favorite buildings, especially, I think I see that's on one of your questions is probably the Arcade as a fantastic building. It's such a wonderful surprise, and it's such an urban amenity. It's it and the other arcades and other buildings that have public passageways through them, such as the Terminal Tower complex, and the Union Commerce Bank building, the Loew's building, the Hanna building. Some of them short. Some of them longer. Passageways through buildings, which I found was such an appropriate building form for a city that sometimes has a hostile climate that allows citizens to move through town, and encounter each other, and do their business or their shopping, et cetera. Oh, I, I seriously blame I. M. Pei. That he didn't pick up on that when he had the opportunity to do the largest urban renewal project in America. And with all due respect I have for, I. M. Pei. He was in the, in the early '60s and late '50s, the darling of urban renewal, and I say that because of his experience with Zeckendorf. And so, he was being chosen to design major urban renewal projects all over America, you know, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and you know, wherever. The last one, certainly one of the very last ones was Cleveland to do 31 acres, I think it was of downtown land which had been just leveled to create a whole new urban renewal. I think by that time he was just pulling stuff off the shelf. You know that he had done elsewhere. Same kind of ideas, et cetera.
Nina Gibans [00:29:04] For everyone's benefit, let's describe the parameters of the acreage you just mentioned.
Peter van Dijk [00:29:11] Yeah, well. In review, it was mostly east of Ninth Street, south of Superior, actually more like Saint Clair and to the lakefront and all the way to about 18th or 19th Street. But coming also up into Chester Commons, you know, up 12th Street. And so it was all part of an Erieview of urban renewal area, most of which had been leveled and, and stayed that way for a long time, for many years. We used to call it Hiroshima Flats because I ended up designing one of the first completed buildings there, which was the Cuyahoga Savings Building. Now the IMG Center and our office was in there and we'd look out at nothing, just parking, you know, for, for years et cetera. But had I. M. Pei taken a real look at Cleveland as to what's unique about Cleveland and seen that we already have a network of these passages, these arcades, you see. Why not build on that idea in a new urban renewal way and provide even stronger axes? And so, for instance, the whole of 9th Street, except for the Huntington Building, was all-new available land you know, [from] Euclid Avenue on south, actually from Chester north there's really nothing that could have been one big, pedestrian-enclosed space. There's an example of that done by Cesar Pelli at about the same time, a competition that was not executed. It was called UN City in Vienna for the United Nations, which was a linear scheme [of] the main pedestrian spine on many levels out of which grew office towers. All attached to that and the things that didn't fit in the towers, such as big ballrooms or conference spaces or parking structures, all stuffed like suckling piglets onto it. And then it's the beautifully clear diagram. I could imagine that 9th Street could have been that with, with branches off of it, et cetera. Just fine. It was an unimaginative plan that Pei came up with. In fact, it was very much inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice, a big open piazza with the tower building and some flanking low buildings. Now, I'm, I have to admit. I. M. Pei didn't execute any of the buildings there. All of which were very mediocre. You know, the Green Giant and all of that, and they built a reflecting pool, which was more like a swimming pool. It was painted light blue. So you didn't see the water at all. You saw the bottom. If you do a reflecting pool as everybody knows, you paint it black, just like the bottom of a lake is dark so that you see the light shining on the thing. And the thing was for nothing. I mean, we don't sit around feeding the pigeons, you know, like Piazza San Marco or anything. And actually, what ended up with, of course, is a Galleria, a big, enclosed arcades. So but anyway, I think the Arcade is a terrific building.
Nina Gibans [00:32:54] I've forgotten. Did you have anything to do with the restoration of the Arcade?
Peter van Dijk [00:32:58] No, I didn't. No, I didn't.
Nina Gibans [00:33:00] Well, let's talk about some of the Euclid Avenue buildings that you did.
Peter van Dijk [00:33:04] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:33:04] Yeah.
Peter van Dijk [00:33:06] I did.
Nina Gibans [00:33:06] A restoration.
Peter van Dijk [00:33:07] Yeah.
Nina Gibans [00:33:07] Role.
Peter van Dijk [00:33:07] Actually. What I'm probably the most proud of was the Huntington Bank. I think it's the first major restoration project in Cleveland in terms of a big building. And, and the way that came about was I'd gotten a call from the building manager, Bill Diedrich. I remember his name. He said, Mr. Van Dijk, we've got this bank here. It's a mess. The skylight leaks. It's already half tarred over and everything. It's all a waste of space. And our board has decided we want to get rid of it and build in three floors, just a steel frame, and drywall, and acoustic tile, and build a lot of space in there. And I thought, gosh. Really? Why would you want to do that? It's, it's all a waste of space. It's not air-conditioned, you know. It's terrible it leaks and everything. Anyway, make a long story short, I just couldn't accept that. And rather than just turn the job down, I went to Joe Coakley, who was the president of the bank at the time. And suggested that we restore the building that we could easily air-condition this in with panache and or not heavy-handedly and provide a wonderful work environment. Because I said, Joe, this is one of the grandest banks in the world. There's no bank I know that has this kind of colossal grandeur: these huge Corinthian columns, these fabulous vaults by a marvelous architect, you know, Graham Anderson Probst and White, a big Chicago firm. They also did the Terminal Tower complex. Anyway, so people forget it. Our board is folded. And actually, Jim Carney was a big guy on that board. You know, does everything on the cheap. I don't care if it comes on the thing or not, but, but he said, no, no forget it. Anyway, Joe stuck to his. I convinced him and we restored it, and I still think it's the most fabulous thing. In fact, my biggest thrill was one of the features of this bank up in the top ends of the vaults are these lunettes. You know, these semi-circular paintings done by Jules Guerin, who was the greatest muralist in America of the 1920s and the Beaux-Arts School. You know, these beautiful murals all on a Greek theme. Well, in one of them at the end, they're these Greek figures. And one of them stands there in a blue robe with a papyrus scroll and that's the architect, you know? You know, Anderson. And so when it was all scaffolded, I went up there and just put my hand on his shoulder. Great job there, Pierce. You know, I just wanted to congratulate him, you see. Hoping someday somebody treats me that way.
Nina Gibans [00:36:18] Yeah, right?
Peter van Dijk [00:36:18] So but then, but I think that if that building had gone down the tubes, it would have been a tremendous shame, you see because eventually, that led to doing the Society Bank, and the Federal Reserve Bank, and the MK Ferguson Plaza and that almost went away also, you see. And it was again, just sort of just not accepting some dumb commission for let's say, hey, don't do that, you know, kind of thing. Then the other success in terms of Euclid Avenue and, and this whole idea of preservation, I think preservation is such an important thing in that it's it saves what's familiar, which is so good for the stability of a community, especially on a college campus where alumni come back all the time. They have an affinity, a love for a great old building, and all of a sudden they see it's gone. Some nondescript new building is there, and not every building can be saved. Buildings do have to be economic vessels. You know, they have to justify their existence. Once in a while, you can save a president's home for historical
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.