Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Making It Modern

Academics

The Winning Design

Hornbostel and Bennett with their Winning Design. Unidentified Photographer. Photograph. 20.5 x 25.5 cm. 1938.Richard Bennett (seated) and Caleb Hornbostel (standing) are shown with their winning architectural design from the 1938 competition for the proposed Art Center at Wheaton College. The competition, a collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Architectural Forum, ran from June 24 to September 5, 1938. Entries were to locate facilities for art, drama, dance and music on a building site east of Peacock Pond. With 252 entries, the competition was an overwhelming success. Design entries were anonymous, so the judges based their decisions on the merits of the design rather than on the architects’ reputations.

The first prize was awarded to Hornbostel & Bennett, two young architects from New York who collaborated for the first time on this project. Their design won for its practical plan, skillful site placement between two lobes of Peacock Pond, excellent access points, and pleasant views from most rooms. Runners up were Gropius & Breuer (2nd place); Bezy, Stedman & Wiener (3rd place); Alexis Dukelski (4th place); and Percival Goodman (5th place).

Insufficient funds and the impact of WWII kept the project from implementation. As a consolation prize, Hornbostel and Bennett were later awarded the commission to design the Student Alumnae Building, which was built in 1940, and, in 1941, the Jackson Wing of the library and the addition to the Science Hall (now Knapton Hall).

-Nancy Milka, Arts Faculty Assistant/Non-Traditional Student

Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett. Wood, plaster, paint. 49.5 x 49.5 cm. 1938.Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett. Wood, plaster, paint. 49.5 x 49.5 cm. 1938.

The model above is a three-dimensional representation of Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett’s winning design. The design lacks excess surface decoration and reveals an effective functionality, two characteristics of the International Style. Modernism required that designs be developed “from the inside out,” and this scheme accommodated faculty offices, classrooms, and performance spaces. Especially when viewed with the color architectural elevation, the model successfully enables viewers to imagine what the building would look like, had it been constructed.

-Jen Valentino, Class 2009

Architectural Sketch of Proposed Art Center Submission. Caleb Hornbostel. Graphite, paper. 20.5 x 25.5 cm. February 20, 1938.Caleb Hornbostel completed this sketch on February 20, 1938 before joining with Richard Bennett to enter Wheaton’s architectural competition. The sketch depicts a building that closely resembles the winning design submitted to the competition. The only dramatic difference between the two is the angling of one wing in the design that won top prize. The most interesting aspect of the sketch is the fact that it was drawn shortly after the public announcement of the competition, before Hornbostel joined Bennett, and thus before they could collaborate on designing the center from the inside out. Function is a key principle of Modernist design. Therefore, in creating a design before considering the building’s specific interior functions, Hornbostel may have been stretching the limits of Modernism.

-Jen Valentino, Class 2009

1938 Art Center Competition 1st Place Architects' Rendering. Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett. Paper, watercolor. 102 x 42.5 cm. 1938.This framed architectural rendering depicts the exterior of the art center submitted by Hornbostel and Bennett. Paired with the elevation drawings and model, the rendering allows the viewer to imagine the entirety of the design that convinced the competition jury that this entry met the project’s criteria.

-Jen Valentino, Class of 2009

Signed Winning Design Elevations. Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett. Ink, paper. 71.5 cm x 55.5 cm. 1938.Signed Winning Design Elevations. Caleb Hornbostel and Richard Bennett. Ink, paper. 71.5 cm x 55.5 cm. 1938.

Signed by the winning architects, these architectural elevations reveal the division of the design’s interior room by room. A photograph depicting Hornbostel and Bennett with these winning elevations is also included in this section of the exhibition. In 1985, Caleb Hornbostel donated the elevations, as well as photographs, scrapbook pages, and other competition-related materials to Wheaton.

-Jen Valentino, Class of 2009

Blueprint for Art Center. Hornbostel and Bennett. Blueprint. 37 x 52 cm. December 14, 1939.This is the original blueprint of Hornbostel and Bennett’s winning design from the 1938 competition to design an art center for Wheaton. It is easy to see how the curved shape of this 118,325 cubic content building would fit perfectly between the two lobes of the east side of Peacock Pond. Had it been constructed, this would have been the first college building to be sited east of the pond, on the lower portion of the campus.

-Nancy Milka, Arts Faculty Assistant/Non-Traditional Student

Blueprints for an Art Center. Hornbostel and Bennett. Blueprints. All 28.5 x 46 cm. December 14, 1939.Blueprints for an Art Center. Hornbostel and Bennett. Blueprints. All 28.5 x 46 cm. December 14, 1939.

Blueprints for an Art Center. Hornbostel and Bennett. Blueprints. All 28.5 x 46 cm. December 14, 1939.Blueprints for an Art Center. Hornbostel and Bennett. Blueprints. All 28.5 x 46 cm. December 14, 1939.

These original blueprints show the floor plans for the art center designed by Hornbostel and Bennett. The building included space for the art, theatre, dance, and music departments. Page 1 illustrates the layout for the art department as well as the Little Theatre, Shop, Dance Shop, and a large curved theatre offering seating for 500 people. Pages 2 through 4 indicate how the building was planned to incorporate slide, lecture, seminar and practice rooms as well as classrooms, libraries, faculty offices, restrooms, storage areas, and a boiler room.

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