At State Fairgrounds, a rival to Pantheon and Penn Station

“I had first encountered [Dorton Arena] in an architecture class, where my professor waxed poetic about this dramatic modern building, noting that had its designer, Matthew Nowicki, not been killed in a plane crash, he would have become one of the outstanding avant-garde architects of the 20th century….

“Nowicki’s Raleigh pavilion bears positive comparison with some of the magnificent grand spaces of history — the Pantheon in Rome, France’s Amiens Cathedral, and the original Pennsylvania Station in New York….

“Although pretty much taken for granted in a capital city that has choked itself with unbridled and hideous suburban development…this architectural wonder also stands as a testament to North Carolina’s golden age, when it was emerging from depression and world war to become the symbol of a progressive New South — a leader in education and modern architecture.”

— From “One of the Best Examples of Modern Architecture Is a Former Livestock Pavilion in North Carolina” by William Morgan at Slate (July 14)


At 65 mph, who needs architecture?

“… In rural parts of North Carolina where roads are small, it’s possible to see the face of a farmer coming towards you in his truck because you are both driving slowly. As often as not he will wave. (Imagine doing that on an interstate highway or a six-lane suburban throughway.) In the 200 or so years before automobiles came to North Carolina, our counties were sized based on the distance a farmer could travel on horseback in a day to pay his taxes at the courthouse, or sell his crops at market….

“Country stores, now usually shuttered, [were] spaced every few miles within walking distance of farmsteads; and country churches [rang] steeple bells at a quarter to 11 on Sunday morning to remind folks they had 15 minutes to walk to service.

“High-speed roads have liberated these older landscapes…. And on the whole, this is better. But as [Greensboro journalist] Jim Schlosser  observed, architecture began to go downhill with the construction of the Interstate…. Since people no longer slowed down to drive through cities, architects designed buildings to be viewed at 65 miles per hour, with a consequent loss of scale, texture, and detail.”

— From  “No One Drove Faster than a Horse” by Raleigh architect Frank Harmon (