Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile
Discover the Guastavinos’ contribution to some of America’s greatest public spaces.
Throughout the five boroughs are more than 200 long-overlooked marvels of engineering and architectural beauty —the interlocking tile vaults built by Spanish immigrants Rafael Guastavino, Sr. (1842-1908), and his son, Rafael Jr. (1872-1950). The system of structural tile vaults developed by the Guastavinos —lightweight, fireproof, low-maintenance, and capable of supporting significant loads— was used by leading architects of the day, including McKim, Mead & White and Carrere & Hastings.
Ellis Island’s Registry Room, Carnegie Hall, the Bronx Zoo’s Elephant House, and Grand Central Terminal all contain Guastavino vaults.
Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile is a major exhibition exploring the innovations the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company (1889-1962) brought to the science and art of building. It was originally organized by MIT’s John Ochsendorf, who is a MacArthur Fellow; it is substantially expanded here to include some 20 key Guastavino spaces in the five boroughs.