It's DECORATED SHED Friday! Venturi and Scott Brown's Fire Station #4 in Columbus, Indiana, is on claass haus today.
One of the first buildings to be funded by the famed Cummins Foundation Architecture Program of Columbus, Indiana, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Fire House #4 is a straightforward civic statement, the rare delivery of a simple and functional building. Completed in 1967, Fire House #4 stands on a busy street, its unique form and distinctive color combination daring the passerby to take a second look. The low utilitarian building's trapezoidal plan is simple and easy to maintain, offering equal space to living quarters and an apparatus room. The central focus of the front facade, a semi-circular hose-drying tower is a nod to the historical church steeple, while the graphic arrangement of white glazed brick with unglazed red brick gives the illusion of much larger proportions. Utilizing these distinctive and somewhat disorienting details, Venturi and Scott Brown created a small-scale building that still manages to convey a monumental sense of public importance.
Fire Station #4 is Venturi and Scott Brown at their best, a successful formal experiment with one of the most recognizable building types in America. Instantly readable as a fire station, the building is direct and functional, a wink to the vitality of America's coded architectural language. A seemingly modern structure, the fire station with its variety of windows, irregular brick, and use of bold graphics is antithetical to the Modern movement, a heretic of Miesian form and function. For all of its simplicity and ease, the fire station remains a daring philosophical statement, a frankly utilitarian building designed to thrive within the energetic American landscape. Like a billboard (or decorated shed), Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Fire Station #4 is easily understood, a powerful piece of pop architecture in one of America's most iconic architectural cities.
If you are venturing to Columbus anytime soon (and I hope you are), you can see Venturi and Scott Brown's fire station at 4730 E. 25th Street.
Image at top:
Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Fire Station 4, Columbus, Indiana, 2011. Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, 2013650708.
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