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  #61  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 9:36 PM
strongbad635 strongbad635 is offline
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A few years ago I wrote Facebook notes with my ten favorite (and least favorite) state capitol buildings. In case you may find them mildly entertaining, here are my ten worst:

10. Arizona

This one is not half bad. The materials are good and well-presented. And the color scheme is soothing (not to mention appropriate to the Sonoran Desert setting). Just a few misses. The building could use a little more detail. Perhaps a few more articulations. And the portico seems "filled in" on the outside, making the pillars effectively just decorative.

9. North Carolina

The main problem here was the use and presentation of building materials. There is very little ornament at all, lending a flat, blank lack of personality. And the entrance at the bottom looks like it had to be shored up by piles of stones. Poor choice. The overall effect is dreary.

8. Louisiana

There are a few deficincies here. The building is situated on an isolated rise, and has a parking lot in front of it, effectively cutting it off from the street or any relationship to other buildings. There isn't much intimate detail to invite the eye, and the tall center tower is out of proportion to the very low side wings. We'll skate right past any phallic jokes for the sake of good taste.....

7. Oregon

Here we see what could have been a decent building if not for the poisonous influence of modernism. Almost all of the ornament is absent, lending a series of blank surfaces to the facade. Throw in some fake grates over the upper windows, a replica of a volume knob to the roof, cap it off with a gold G.I. Joe action figure on top, and you get the perfect recipe for a capitol building that fails to live up the the stunning natural setting of Oregon's Willamette Valley.

6. Tennessee

Well here is a series of tragedies unfolded in stone. The hilltop setting is exacerbated by placing the building on a large, undefined platform without any kind of defined edge. Just drops off like a cliff. The lack of detail sucks away any life and character that could have been. This is compounded by the porticos that are too short and stunted for the scale of the oddly-proportioned building. The grand finale is the odd cupola, which looks like it was designed by Basil Marceaux himself.

5. New Mexico

What happened here? Did they take an old Montgomery Ward's slap some tan stucco on it, apply an entrance with a huge blank wall above it, and slap the state seal on it? Sadly, the vacuous entrance wall is the only way they could have defined ANY sort of front or back to the formless building it fronts.

4. North Dakota

Wow. They had a blank slate to work with, literally. Just the flat prairieland of our nation's extreme north. And what did they choose to build? A generic 19-story office tower surrounded by similarly milquetoast buildings that resemble a community college campus or the Int'l headquarters of a computer company. Sadly, I have been to Bismarck, and their state capitol still had MORE charm than most of the rest of town, which seems built to the the specifications of a gas station.

3. Alaska

Straight from the land that brought us the Palin, the Moose, and meth! Actually, the capital city of Juneau is not without charm. It's small, situated on a gorgeous island amid Alaska's breathtaking panhandle region. It isn't even as cold as the rest of the state, with average January lows warmer than Denver or St. Louis. But the state capitol doesn't really capitalize on any of this. It's a standard-issue 1930s office building with a completely flat front, an entrance a half story above grade (destroying some of the buildings relationship to the sidewalk), and an applique, kitschy portico done in marble that doesn't match the rest of the stone on the building. Yet Alaska DOES contain civic buildings that look much more horrific. Ever seen Wasilla's City Hall?

2. Ohio

The perfect storm of odd proportions, a blank front, a meaningless lawn to separate it from the street, bad color selection, staining, and the Prom Queen gets to wear a tan sandstone tiara to complete the depressing ensemble. I will give the architect credit. The building is about as pleasant as living in Ohio is. Mazel tov!

1. Hawaii

and we get to the Grand Poohbah of ugliness and dysfunction: Hawaii! The state of Hawaii was founded in 1959, at the height of the modernist's ruination of cities everywhere. And the state capitol in Honolulu delivers like Dominos! No relation to the street, the building has all the hallmarks of midcentury modern junk architecture: big expanses of glass, a precarious mix of different grates, wood coverings and cement articulations, and concrete building materials that stain and wear when they get wet (did the architect assume it never rains in Hawaii? Hello????). The setting fits the building's style: a formless space without any defined center of edges. A modernist's dream. An agoraphobe's nightmare.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 9:50 PM
strongbad635 strongbad635 is offline
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Here were my ten favorite Capitols:

10. Massachusetts

All of the basic components are here and executed well. Good proportions, good color scheme, decent siting and there is a good amount of fine detail to draw the eye around the building components. Almost the polar opposite of Boston's City Hall, one of the most famous design abortions in America.

9. Colorado

The gray stone of this impressive capitol echoes the permanence and strength of the Rocky Mountains. The proportions are very well done, and the site is on a hill opposite the City/County building for Denver (itself quite a striking building). Capping it off with a well-executed gold dome is the perfect frosting on the cake.

8. Maryland

Annapolis is one of America's most beautiful towns, situated on a stunning site where the winding Severn River empties into the Chesapeake Bay amidst a mass of sailboats and bald cypress trees. The Maryland State House, in a well-executed Southern Colonial style, is situated on a small rise at the center of town, and is a terminal vista in 4 directions (GREAT urban planning). This is one of the best examples of a capitol building that is both seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the city and adds tremendously to the character of the city.

7. Kansas

This imposing edifice cuts a striking presence in Topeka. Despite the great size, the proportions are kept under control with a bold central articulation that juts out to the front and the finely detailed dome which, capped in copper, has weathered to a soothing gray-green patina. The sandstone of this building is about the best shade of tan I've ever seen.

6. Delaware

Like many small state captials located in small cities, Delaware wasn't pressured to build some large, domed building for their capitol. They opted to build in the popular Georgian plantation style, which is seen throughout the coastal Southern U.S. This is one of the best examples of the style seen anywhere. Who'd have thought they could push the front entrance that far back and still make it clearly visible and well denoted?

5. Iowa

When I visited the Hawkeye State for the first time in October of 2006, I didn't have many expectations. But I tell ya, when we pulled into Des Moines and I caught a glimpse of this gem, I was smitten. This is just a gorgeous combination of a fantastic site, well-selected building materials, fantastic ornament, and a playful nod to the character of this corn-growing region. The only drawback of this gorgeous building? The original front entrance is sealed shut and the building must be entered to the side.

4. Wisconsin

This is such a clever combination of creativity and adherence to time-honored traditional beauty. Like many state capitols, the stone facade is finely detailed and the right size on just about all counts. But the architect played with tradition by designing a 4-wing cruciform shape, and then spinning it 45 degrees so that the four notches, instead of the four points, are facing the blocks. This effect is maximized because town planner James Slaughter platted a square for the capital where 8 streets terminate in the vista where the capitol was built. Add to this Madison's bucolic setting on an isthmus between two beautiful lakes and the overall effect is just breathtaking.

3. Texas

I have always been in love with this building! Maybe it's the brute strength projected by the deep tan sandstone. Maybe it's the beefy way the front entrance pulls the focus exactly where it should go. Maybe it's the cascading way the detail builds from the entrance cap to the Texas state flag, to the huge dome behind. Or maybe it's the way the planners of Austin laid out the city so that it seems you can catch a glimpse of this imposing edifice from virtually anywhere in town. Regardless, this one is a winner on all counts!

2. New York

Most large states choose capitol building designs that follow a pretty standard protocol: a large building with a projecting front entrance, two wings to the side, and a big dome in the center capped by either a flag or some kind of statue. When three teams of architects took on the task of designing New York a capitol building in Albany, they threw convention out the window and the result is an ornate, emotional building that looks more like a mansion than a civic institution. Whatever risks the team thought they were taking, boy did it pay off!

1. Connecticut

Rarely does a building capture my imagination completely. The first time I saw the Connecticut state capitol in Hartford was one of these moments. The combination of stone, metal, glass and trees that converge here are hard to describe in words. The soaring gold dome in the background almost seems to float above the incredibly ornate detail that goes from sidewalk to spires without a single miss. Just mind-numbing beauty.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 9:58 PM
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Thanks for critique of our state capitol's architecture but its kind of off topic.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 11:38 PM
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The Connecticut and Iowa state houses are absolute gems. My two favorites hands-down. Strongbad, I am in total agreement with you on Connecticut; the first time I saw that building, I was in awe. And its setting at the head of Bushnell Park is serene.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 11:45 PM
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Oregon an and Ohio remind me of the Trocadero or whatever it is in Paris a bit. 1930s fascist / futurist architecture..
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  #66  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 11:50 PM
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The state capitols are the closest we will ever get to having grand European-like architecture, at least when looking at Connecticut and New York's.
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  #67  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2013, 9:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dc_denizen View Post
Oregon an and Ohio remind me of the Trocadero or whatever it is in Paris a bit. 1930s fascist / futurist architecture..
Oregon, maybe like the Trocadero. The Ohio building is based on another Parisian landmark, the Rotonde de la Villette (originally a customs house). From the 1780s, not the 1930s.

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  #68  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2013, 4:12 PM
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The Connecticut and Iowa state houses are absolute gems. My two favorites hands-down.
Agreed, although a joke here in Iowa is that our capitol is the capitol of the State of Overcompensation to make up for all the corn fields.

The building is a gem, but it's also in a rather crappy location with regards to the rest of the city: a mile east of downtown amongst a huge park surrounded by government buildings and then the rather gritty, industrial southeast side.

It is beyond gorgeous inside though:



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  #69  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2013, 9:33 PM
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And now we're getting interiors. This thread is supposed to be about how the capitols engage (or fail to engage) their respective surrounding cities.
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  #70  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 1:09 AM
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Oh dear, that's awful. It looks more like a communist mausoleum or a Mormon armory.
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
oregon's memorial to our fallen mormon comrades in bowling. yeah, i just cant get over how ugly the capital is. the central part always reminds me of the scene in close encounters when richard dreyfus is making devils tower out of his mashed potatoes.
source wikipedia:
Are you deliberately ripping off my post or is this just an amazingly improbable coincidence?
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  #71  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 3:14 AM
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And now we're getting interiors. This thread is supposed to be about how the capitols engage (or fail to engage) their respective surrounding cities.
Which I've already covered in the second post in this thread. The Iowa State Capitol: stunning building inside and out, but in a poor location disconnected with the heart of the city. The Polk County Courthouse is in the downtown spot that the Capitol should have been in.
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Last edited by ChiSoxRox; Jul 13, 2013 at 4:07 AM.
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  #72  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 10:03 AM
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Yeah the dude from Aurora seriously threw this thread out of whack.
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  #73  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 10:17 AM
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Off topic!!!! Off topic!!!!
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  #74  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 2:36 PM
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SC's capitol does fairly well, and having it bisect Main Street (with the CBD to the north, and the area to the south having uses affiliated with the University of SC) provides a nice terminal vista. But the major obstacles preventing more engagement with the surrounding area are Gervais Street to the north and Assembly Street to the west which are pretty wide streets. As one of the first planned capital cities in the country, Columbia's grid is a nice set-up but the streets were built entirely too wide. This was based on some pretty bad public health science: the width was determined by the belief that the dangerous and pesky mosquito could not fly more than 60 feet without dying of starvation along the way. However, the capitol grounds are some of the nicest anywhere and essentially function as a park.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Colum...&ved=0CMIBELYD
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  #75  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 12:39 AM
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Again, not trying to be a contrarian jackass, but I like New Mexico's capitol (I've heard it called the "roundhouse"). If you've ever been to Santa Fe (and again, this is subjective...I can't put in enough of these disclaimers lest someone get all bent out of shape over an opinion), the capitol building really fits in well with the rest of the town's built environment. It's not a traditional state capitol like what most other states have (or what we typically think of when we think of a state capitol building), but it works really well for Santa Fe.

As for Arizona's capitol, well, here it is in all its "glory"

Source

The above is where the governor has his/her office (9th floor). The copper domed building to its east was the old state capitol, but has since been converted into a museum. The state senate and house of representatives are each housed in buildings to the immediate north and south of the old capitol building.
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  #76  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 2:11 AM
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  #77  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 2:21 AM
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6.) OLYMPIA, WASH.


The Washington State Capitol is oddly located at the end of a dead-end street. It's hard to find the Capitol unless you go looking for it. The building is surrounded by government buildings and surface parking and amenities are in very short supply.
I take you have never visited. The Capitol is quite prominent perched atop that hill above the lake. You can't miss it. It's one of the first things you see as you enter the city from I-5 (either direction) or from Puget Sound on the water. One of the most scenic state Capitol locations there is.





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  #78  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 2:26 AM
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People can talk trash all day long about the Oregon Capitol--fact is, it's the second-best situated capitol on the West Coast. Salem is an awesome place--a small but compact, vibrant, intact historic city, and the capitol is well-situated on one side of downtown. Olympia is just shockingly bad--you drive on expressways and then get to the capitol building and realize you're in a tight parking lot with no outlet. The rest of the city is depressing and dead, too--no wonder Courtney Love started doing heroin there.
You have Salem & Olympia reversed. Olympia is the nicer place. Downtown is lively & you didn't take scenic route into town. Next time take Deschuetes Parkway into town along lake & visit the falls first.
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  #79  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 5:18 AM
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Salem is a thousand times more lively and attractive than Olympia, and Oregon's capitol is better situated than Washington's.
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  #80  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2013, 5:35 AM
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Salem is a thousand times more lively and attractive than Olympia, and Oregon's capitol is better situated than Washington's.
An overwhelming majority of people familiar with both cities would disagree. The reputations of the two in the NW are the opposite of what you state. Olympia is noted for being attractive, Salem isn't. Sounds like you simply drove off I-5, around the Capitol, and skipped town. Doubt you walked the boardwalk, shopped downtown, ate at a restaurant, jogged around the lake, visited the 2nd biggest farmer's market in the state, hit the clubs etc.
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