Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth Building & the Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Building (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Apologies for what may seem a bit off-topic for me, but the photography from today’s activities related to the historic multi-day Supreme Court oral arguments on the healthcare law reminded me that I once started a post long-ago about the Supreme Court Building‘s architect, Cass Gilbert. (I have about 50 of those “posts started, but not written” in an Evernote folder.)

Cass Gilbert (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

I started the post after learning that he designed three buildings in lower Manhattan I find fascinating: The Woolworth Building, the Hamilton Custom House and what is today, an apartment building at 90 West Street. The post was about a jogging route that can take you past these three buildings and across the Brooklyn Bridge — but I decided I’d leave the jogging part out today and just mention the architect.

While the Supreme Court Building was his last major project (he died before its completion in 1935), he designed a long list of significant government buildings including three state capitals, Minnesota, Arkasas and West Virginia.

His work can be seen all across the U.S. For example, one of his most popular designs among architects is Battle Hall, at the University of Texas. He also designed the Public Library and the Museum of Art in St. Louis and numerous buildings in Minnesota where he started his career.

A long time ago, I worked on Capitol Hill and for several months, walked by the Supreme Court building at least twice a day. Despite its smaller size relative to the U.S. Capitol across the street, there is something about the buildings lines and positioning that provide it with a sense of importance of a scale equal to the Capitol.

One of the reasons I love jogging in cities I visit: The buildings you see can help you learn a lot — if you have access to Wikipedia back in your hotel room.