The Grand Tour - Travelling the World with an Architect's Eye
By Harry Seidler

October 20, 2003 /
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Architect Harry Seidler has spent more than 50 years traveling the globe, extensively photographing the peak achievements in architecture from 3000 B.C. to the present day.

Thanks to sound advice given to him early on by his photographer brother, Marcell ("Only use Leica cameras and Kodachrome film, which is archival"), Seidler's hobby quickly developed into a passion and, finally, an impressive archive of world architecture.

Including many of the world's most famous architectural structures, Seidler's photographs illustrate the history and style - country by country - of architecture in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas.

 Helsinki, National Museum, 1902-10

Architect: Eliel Saarinen

The Museum has a finely carved granite facade, especially a bear, which is a finnish symbol.

 Alfeld, Faguswerke, 1911 

Architect: Walter Gropius

A glass "curtain wall" building revolutionary for its time, covering the floors and structure, except for the expressed columns.

 Rome, St. Peters Basilica, 16th and 17th Century
Designed successively by a number os architects, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo and Carlos Maderno.

The focus of the enormous interior in Bernini's Baldachino supported by twisted bronze columns (looted from the Pantheon) under the great dome.

 Gizeh, Pyramids of Cheops, 2250 BC

The very icons of ancient Egypt, these giant minimal sculptures stand in a sandy desert area near Cairo. Originally, the pyramids were covered in finely finished limestone with the peak reputed to have been covered in gold. All of this, however, was pillaged over the centuries.

 Millowners' Association Building 1954

Architect: Le Corbusier 

Overlooking a river edge, the street approach leads over an inclined ramp into the open central space, to the offices and meeting halls. Both east and west facades are protected from the strong sunlight by brise-soleil. The form-boarded concrete gives a rugged texture to the entire structure.

 Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, 1955-58

Architect: Kenzo Tange

Solidly built of exposed textured concrete, the modern office building recalls traditional Japanese ponds with sculptural stone blocks.  The projecting concrete floor beams are reminiscent of early timber structures.

 Moscow, Kremlin, Archangel Cathedral

Machu Picchu

The Inca city high up in the Andes Mountains with houses and agricultural terraces ingeniously connected by long flights of stone steps.

 New York, Rockefeller Center, 1929-40

Simultaneously with the Empire State and the Chrysler Tower, this landmark of New York was built during the Great Depression. It consists of nine various height buildings with the 70-storey RCA Tower its centrepiece.

Divided into chapters by country, each with a brief introduction outlining its architectural history, "The Grand Tour" offers armchair travelers, students, architecture buffs, and historians the opportunity to browse the buildings of the world through one man's photographs - the fruits of a passionate, half-century endeavor.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Harry Seidler studied architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg before winning a scholarship to Harvard, where he studied under Walter Gropius. He also studied under Josef Albers at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and was the chief assistant of Marcel Breuer in New York from 1946 to 1948. He worked with Oscar Niemeyer in Rio de Janeiro before opening his own practice in Sydney in 1949. He has taught at the Harvard School of Design, the ETH in Zurich, and the University of Sydney. In 1996, Seidler was awarded the RIBA gold medal. 

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Publisher: Taschen

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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