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Home > Romy Wyllie

Recent Reviews for Romy Wyllie

Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture (Book) - 7/17/2007 10:19:24 AM
Romy Wyllie’s newly released book Bertram Goodhue; His Life and Residential Architecture, published by W.W Norton and Company, Inc., is an engaging and well researched investigation into the life and work of one of the most talented and productive architects practicing in the U.S. at the turn-of-the-last-century. In a highly readable text Wyllie provides an analysis of 26 of Goodhue’s most comprehensive commissions, as well as a description of the lives and excessive tastes of his clients. The author also tracks the progression of Goodhue’s style – including his eventual break from tradition - and weaves all into a deft portrait of both the man and the artist. Wyllie’s research benefited greatly from the abundance of archival materials that have been carefully preserved by the Goodhue family and by academic institutions. However, it takes exceptional talent and perseverance to weed out the best of it. Wyllie has done just that. For example, Bertram Goodhue ( 1869-1924) was a prolific letter writer who wrote articulately about himself and others. Wyllie takes careful advantage of her sources, using them wisely to give a particular richness to the narrative. In a speech to his staff at the 1922 Twelfth-Night party, he says: “I can’t begin to tell you how fond I am of every member of the office force, - how much I value them all, and their various abilities. Of this force I am but one, a man-in-a-blouse, so to speak, with this difference; that I have the power of veto. I believe it makes for happiness that men’s work should be interesting and not always mere work…. And everybody is free to differ with me in my solution of any given problem …. I often come back to find my own solution drawn out, with another, and distinctly better one, alongside.” [From “Twelfth-Night in Mr. Goodhue’s Office”, Pencil Points 3, no.2 (February 1922): 26] The reader comes away not only with a thorough knowledge of the architectural work and Goodhue’s relationship with his clients, colleagues and staff, but also an appreciation of Goodhue as a human being. For those drawn to an architect’s vision of how a structure works in relation to its surrounding, Wyllie is generous in offering up this side of Goodhue’s innovations with landscaping and gardens. A trip to the Mediterranean, India, and Persia in 1901 with his new client, James Waldron Gillespie, marked a turning point for Goodhue. From this point on, he became adept in integrating shallow reflecting pools, pavilions, exotic tress and shrubs, courtyards, fountains, and waterways into his plans. The Dater and Gillespie residences in Santa Barbara, and the Coppell residence in Pasadena are a few of Wyllie’s well documented examples of Goodhue’s innovations and his ability to bring garden, landscape, and residence together seamlessly. Review by Pamela Skewes-Cox published in EDEN Vol. 10 No. 2, Summer 2007. Permission to reprint granted by the California Garden and Landscape History Society.

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