For Architecture Buffs: National Building Museum's Building Brain Busters
Editor's Note: We're great fans of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC and besides patronizing their shop online we found their Brain Busters a fascinating, informative and entertaining compilation. The questions and their answers are below, with the Museum's permission.
Q: What famous early American architect was incarcerated in 1811 in a jail of his own design?
A: Charles Bulfinch, architect of the Massachusetts State House and the first completed dome of the US Capitol, was imprisoned for the month of July 1811 due to unpaid debts.
Q: The movie RoboCop (1987) was set in Detroit. In what city was it filmed?
A: Dallas. The production team assumed that the movie would be shot in Detroit, but curiously, after scouting locations, producer Jon Davison declared that “the architecture just wasn’t right.” Such are the ways of Hollywood.
Q: What is the longest building in the United States?
A: The Klystron Gallery in Menlo Park, California, which is more than three kilometers (approximately 10,085 feet) long. The structure sits directly above Stanford University’s linear accelerator. Klystrons are vacuum tubes that generate or amplify microwaves.
Q: What common material, typically associated with much smaller buildings, did Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates use as the primary cladding on the 1.3 million-square-foot headquarters of General Foods, in Rye Brook, NY, completed in 1983?
A: Aluminum siding.
Q: In 1953, a famous architect was selected for the position of dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, but he was unable to accept. Who was the architect and why did he have to decline the appointment?
A: The architect was Oscar Niemeyer. He had to decline the appointment when the US government denied him a visa due to his membership in the Brazilian Communist Party. Now 104, Niemeyer is still practicing architecture despite a recent hospital stay.
Q: What is the tallest inclined (i.e., leaning) tower in the world? Hint: It’s not in Pisa.
A: The tower at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada, completed in 1987 (11 years after the Olympics were held there) and designed by French architect Roger Taillibert, rises 165 meters (or about 541 feet, according to official measurements) and is inclined approximately 45 degrees.
Q: What document declared "that oblique and elliptic lines are dynamic, and by their very nature possess an emotive power a thousand times stronger than perpendiculars and horizontals, and that no integral, dynamic architecture can exist that does not include these?”
A: The Manifesto of Futurist Architecture, by Antonio Sant'Elia, 1914. This was only one of many futurist manifestos, the most infamous of which was written by poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who also wrote the original manifesto of Italian fascism.
Q: What does the Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) in Rome have to do with a malformed pearl?
A: The Piazza San Pietro is one of the most famous examples of Baroque architecture. The word "Baroque" ultimately derives from the Portuguese word barocco, meaning "irregularly shaped pearl."
Photograph: The tower at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada by French architect Roger Taillibert. Wikipedia