Saturday, June 27, 2009

The GC Murphy Building

One of the activities of the American National Standard and its affiliates is to document, analyze, and preserve aspects of the American cultural and creative output and present it to new audiences. One of our specialities is documentation of American Commercial Architecture from the time period of the 1920's to 1976. 
It is our contention that buildings, clothing, style, typography, and other forms of design have been in decline ever since. We no longer shed tears for the demise of this era for it disappears more and more everyday. We are steeled in our resolve to unleash the considerable photo-documentation in our archives and encourage our affiliated research centers to do the same. You may want to peruse some of the efforts of our Berlin branch who are undertaking a painstaking effort to bring a fresh viewpoint to the heritage of this city.

Introducing the first installment to this effort: the GC Murphy Building, formerly located in the Clarendon area of Arlington Virginia. 
Seen here shortly before its downfall in 1986, the Standard sent an emergency photodoc unit to record its essential characteristics. We must caution the casual viewer of historic images that there is no substitute for visiting and experiencing these structures and building sites first hand. We note that in the digital age there is an ubiquity of imagery, but less analysis and discourse concerning what is depicted.

One may note in the image above that the facade of this structure takes on a particular aerodynamic shape with its pointed roof line and strips of glass windows. The front entrance is oriented down toward the Federal City as it scoops up potential customers into its mighty maw of commerce. Once inside patrons were confronted by a dizzying array of products pausing at its luncheon counter for a BLT and a Coke for refreshment. 

Notice below that this building's rear facade illustrates that the architects and designers considered all facets of the building as a complete structure. Unlike today where design and material choices are made only to maximize profit.
Linked to its sister structure the Hecht Company building in the Parkington Shopping Center further up the mid-20th century Wilson Boulevard commercial corridor in Ballston,
 and Anchored by the Radio Building to the South in the Courthouse Section. 

We hope this brief foray into our archives has stimulated and informed you of the vast heritage of the American built environment. We wish that there is no lapse into needless sentimentality about days gone by, but to instead re-invigorate the concept of the impact of design on the the urban scene and one's interaction in it.

1 comment:

  1. The GC Murphy building pointed toward a bright future of utmost convenience and optimism. It's razing was completely ignored by historical societies. It really was a super structure. What a true American gem. And what a shame that it wasn't saved from the new age of architectural putridity.

    I forgot about the Radio Building. Shoot me a high-res pic when you get a chance.