Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century
Mar. 28, 2012, 10:00 am
This is the first ever exhibit to explore the life and work of Ralph Walker (1889-1973), the great and influential architect who shaped New York’s skyline during the Roaring Twenties through iconic Art Deco skyscrapers including the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building at 140 West Street and the luxurious Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street in the heart of the city’s Financial District. Walker was called “the only other honest architect in America” by Frank Lloyd Wright, and hailed in the New York Times as the “architect of the century,” yet few have heard of the man or understand his contributions. Walker was a master of modern ornament, using his skills as a designer to “humanize” the skyscraper and the city itself. Across the 50 years of his practice, Walker invented a new language for telephone buildings across the country, shaped the Chicago and New York World’s Fairs of the 1930s, and became an outspoken advocate for his vision of a modern American city. This exhibit – which includes archival plans and drawings, large models of Walker’s masterpieces, and interactive digital displays that provide visitors with a guided tour through his career – is housed in the ground floor of 212 West 18th Street, a classic Walker-designed telephone building that was completed in 1929. The building was recently renamed Walker Tower in honor of the architect. The exhibit is curated by Kathryn Holliday, an architectural historian and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, and features materials from her upcoming book, Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century, to be published in the fall by Rizzoli. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily, by appointment only. Please call 212-335-1800 to make an appointment or visit ralphwalkerexhibit.com for more information.