Carnegie Mellon University
'Henry Hornbostel's College of Fine Arts: Entries from a Built Encyclopedia'
Charles Rosenblum is a historian and critic of the built environment and visual arts. A graduate of Yale University, he has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, with the dissertation, “Henry Hornbostel: Progressive and Traditional Design in the American Beaux Arts Movement” with support from a Henry Luce Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.
Charles has taught history and theory in the Schools of Art and Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as in the School of Art at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has been a visiting critic at Syracuse University and Penn State University.
He has written regular architectural criticism for the Pittsburgh City Paper for which he has won consecutive awards from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers’ Association. His writing has also appeared in publications including Architectural Record, Architectural Review, the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, Preservation and Texas Architect. He has published essays in books including Henry Hornbostel: An Architect’s Master Touch by Walter Kidney, Icons of Architecture by Sabine Thiel-Siling and Invisible Giants by Mark C. Carnes. His forthcoming work includes a book chapter on contemporary Pittsburgh architecture and an essay on the work of Springboard Design. He is also working with Filmmakers Len Caric and Mark Fallone on a documentary on the architecture of Henry Hornbostel.
Henry Hornbostel’s School of Applied Design, now known as the College of Fine Arts, was a culminating structure for its campus, its architect and its architectural movement. Hornbostel, in a revised master plan, cleverly displaced the planned administration building, giving the arts a literally elevated stature on Carnegie’s campus. He turned the structure into an expressive essay into the scope and potential of Beaux arts architectural education, in relation to painting, sculpture, music, and drama, at precisely the time when the movement was proliferating in American schools, not simply at the eponymous institution in Paris.
Yet, unlike other major buildings at Carnegie Tech, and unlike the architect’s other major commissions of the era, the building was never published in a major architectural journal. Accordingly, the building, though often admired, is not frequently well-understood. An examination of the College of Fine Arts through its design and construction and an analysis of its program of sculpture and murals reveals a movement that is unexpectedly lively and far-reaching in the hands of an architect who led the profession in his day.