The Art of Structural Tile
Since the time of ancient Rome, architects, engineers, and builders have struggled with the problem of building domed ceilings over large spaces. No one was more skilled at this than the Rafael Guastavino family, a father and son team of Spanish immigrants who oversaw the construction of thousands of spectacular thin-tile vaults across the United States between the 1880s and the 1950s. These versatile, strong, and fireproof vaults were built by Guastavino in more than two hundred major buildings in Manhattan, and in hundreds more across the country, including Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall, the Biltmore Estate, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Registry Hall at Ellis Island, and many major university buildings. Their patented vaulting techniques made it possible for Beaux-Arts architects such as McKim, Mead and White to create the bold, broad spaces that made them famous. Yet, because the Guastavinos served only as contractors on these projects, their firm's accomplishments have remained relatively unknown to the public. Guastavino Vaulting traces the development of the remarkable construction technology from its Mediterranean roots to its highest achievements in the United States. This long overdue first monograph features archival images, drawings, and beautiful new color photography showcasing the most incredible Guastavino vaulted spaces. An extensive appendix lists the addresses of all known extant Guastavino vaults, over six hundred masterpieces small and large.