“Americans In Paris”




Earlier this month Manhattanville welcomed alumna Margot Ellis ’78, to speak on her recent
book, Americans in Paris: Foundations of America’s Architectural Gilded Age, Architecture Students at the École des Beaux-Arts, 1846– 1946, which she coauthored with architect Jean Paul Carlhian. The lecture was the seventh in the Provost’s distinguished lecture series and was put on in part by the Art History, Language, and Studio Art departments.

During her lecture, Ellis describes the daily life of American students at the École des Beaux-Arts school in Paris, including their materials, skills, and course requirements. She showed images of an array of their blueprint assignments. Amazingly detailed and hand drawn, these architectural plans were purely academic and only featured monumental public buildings. Ellis is working to conserve these drawings, which are not currently maintained in ideal condition.

These architects had a signi cant e ect on American architecture after their education, going on to
design chateaus, churches, and school buildings in the United States. Their expatriate experiences helped them develop an original style not bound to history like previous American architects. Some of these buildings include The Boston and New York Public

Libraries, The Museum of Modern Art, The Jefferson Memorial, Grand Central Terminal, The National Gallery, The American Radiator Building, and the New York Central Building.

Ellis was able to point to the architects’ influence on Westchester County pointing to Kykuit estate in Pocantico Hills, which was designed by Chester Holmes Aldrich and Williams Adam Delano; both were former students of the École des Beaux-Arts. Manhattanville’s Reid Castle was designed by McKim, Mean & White, a prominent architectural rm that was known for part of the Beaux- Arts Movement.

The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the alliance between France and the United States, was also designed in part by an American Beaux-Arts student. Richard Morris Hunt was the rst American to study at the École and was commissioned to design the pedestal for the statue.

The lecture demonstrated just how far reaching the influence of these architects was on what is still such a large part of the American landscape. Ellis ended the lecture by paying tribute to her coauthor and mentor Jean Paul Carlhian.