Hi everyone, here is the update on my Mapping Guastavino tiles project. As a reminder of the project, my practicum group is working with the DC History Center to create a Digital Exhibit about the Carnegie Library Building on Mount Vernon Square. Part of this exhibit will examine the architectural history of the building, while providing context on the Beaux Arts architectural movement. The Carnegie Library is one of multiple buildings in Washington, D.C. that features Guastavino tiles, an architectural feature perfected and popularized by Rafael Guastavino Sr. and Jr. in the early 1900s. For this courses requirements (and to be featured in the exhibit) I am building a map of all the public buildings in Washington, D.C. that feature Guastavino Tiles. I am using Story Map ArcGIS software to do this. To view the map click here.
While preliminary research informed me of multiple buildings with tiles, it did not inform me of all the buildings in D.C. A few years ago the National Building Museum hosted an exhibit about Guastavino tiles. I reached out to the curatorial department to ask if they had a list of all the buildings in Washington, D.C. that had the architectural feature, and luckily they did and graciously shared it with me. There are 24 public buildings in Washington, D.C. that feature Guastavino tiles. Seen here.
After doing more research into the buildings on their various websites, in news articles, etc. I decided to eliminate the Lawerence Residence, the current home of the French Ambassador, from my map. I decided to eliminate it because I wanted this map to serve as a tool that people could use to find buildings they could have feasible access to see the Guastavino tiles. During COVID 19 this may not be an option, as many of the buildings are closed to the public. Some buildings like the U.S. The Department of the Interior needs security clearance, but since they were Federal Government buildings I decided to leave them on the map.
The first step of my process was to plot the points on the map. Seen here.
I then added interpretive information, which and an image which appears as you hover over the point on the map. The “Read More” function allows you to expand and see the rest of the interpretive text. When appropriate I added the link to the building’s website so people could read more about the history of the building, the organization that occupies it, or potentially schedule a visit. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 I was unable to take my own images of the Guastavino tiles as I had originally hoped. Due to this I had to use images I found online. Therefore, I included an “Image courtesy of,…” line at the bottom of each interpretive panel, as you were unable to add it directly to the photograph when plotting points. Due to having to rely on photographs from the website I was also unable to get photographs of the tile work in each building, so some building photographs are of the exterior. While this was disappointing, I do not think it takes away from the impact that this map can have.
Since the map points are plotted, include photographs, and interpretive information, the bulk of the project is complete. I am open to any suggestions on revising the interpretive information if necessary. The bulk of the panels are short, featuring just a few sentences, in an effort to provide relevant information without overwhelming viewers with text, especially since there are so many panels.
I realized after posting my proposal that there was not much of a ‘so what?’ aspect to my project. After thinking about it, it is my hope that this map will show how influential the Guastavino family and their tile technique was to the architecture of Washington, D.C. in the early 1900s. Guastavino tiles are a main feature of the Beaux Arts architectural movement, a movement that can be seen in monuments and buildings throughout the city, including many on this list (The Supreme Court, the Cannon House Building, the Carnegie Library, the DC War Memorial, etc.). I think this tool, especially the spatial aspect of the map can help viewers learn about how buildings in the city came to be and how they were constructed over time. Each interpretive panel includes the date of the building’s construction, which allows viewers to see what buildings were being built in what parts of the city at what time. Since this map features many federal government buildings that were built during the great depression it adds to existing literature on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration’s efforts to create construction jobs to help pull the country out of the Great Depression. While the buildings mainly represent the Beaux Arts architectural style, some of the churches represent other architectural movements, which have been noted where appropriate. This may allow viewers to contrast and compare different architectural styles, while recognizing that Guastavino tiles were used throughout.
In order to help audiences better understand the story of the Guastavino family I have included two interpretive panels on the home page below the map. These panels are not yet complete. I hope that they will be complete within the next week, as I’d like to have a very close to complete draft to demonstrate to the DC History Center. To complete the interpretive panels of this section I am planning on consulting John Ochensdorf’s book, Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile, which provides biographical information on both Rafael Guastivino Sr. and Rafael Guastavino Jr.
Questions: Is there anything else you would like to see that provides context for this map? Are the visuals okay? Are the interpretive panels okay?