Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America's Gilded Age

Mosette Broderick, Knopf, $40 (640p) ISBN 978-0-394-53662-0
In this unsatisfying overview, Broderick looks at one of the leading architectural firms in turn-of-the-20th-century America. Redefining the American aesthetic, McKim, Mead & White put its stamp on Boston, Baltimore, and Newport, and most particularly New York, where it built NYU's and Columbia's libraries, the second Madison Square Garden, and the original Pennsylvania Station. High-minded Charles McKim brought American architecture up to European standards, but his personal life was overshadowed by a messy divorce and tragedy in his second marriage. Well-born William Mead was the sober, hard-working partner who shepherded the firm to success. Poorly educated Stanford White became more a celebrity decorator than an architect and was murdered by a madman obsessed with White's mistress. NYU architectural historian Broderick (The Villard Houses) is too dry for a general audience in discussing the firm's architectural masterpieces, while she shies away from a deep look at the men behind them: she chooses, for instance, not to focus on the firm's bisexual atmosphere. General readers interested in either a popular study of the great architectural firm or in the "scandal" and "class" of the subtitle will be disappointed. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Ebook - 465 pages - 978-0-307-59427-3
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