Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ralph Thomas Walker

 Ralph Thomas Walker
Architecture and Landscaping

 In 1907, at the age of 18, Walker was apprenticed to Providence, Rhode Island architect Howard K. Hilton. The three year apprenticeship paid one dollar a week for the first year, two a week for the second year and three a week for the third. While working there Walker attended classes at MIT and after two years had moved up to a design position, paying nine dollars a week.

Following his sojourn with Hilton and Jackson, where he met his future wife, Stella Forbes, Walker was employed in 1916 by McKenzie, Voorhees and Gmelin, an important New York firm that was the successor firm to the one begun by Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz in 1885. Walker was to remain there for the remainder of his career. Walker's 1923 design of the Barclay-Vesey Building, now know as the Verizon Building, in New York City is credit as being the first skyscraper in which the New York 1916 Zoning Ordinances were treated as a design asset. His design was to lead to a generation of skyscraper built using the step back principle. This building was also arguably the first art-deco skyscraper.

During the 1930s as art deco waned, Walker was deeply involved with the planning of the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago and in the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Walker was an active member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and became its president in 1949. In 1957, on the occasion of the AIA's 100th anniversary, it voted Walker architect of the century. Three years later, in 1960, Walker resigned from the AIA after a conflict over professional ethics.

Walkers most famous work

New York Telephone Building
(The Barclay-Vesey Building)


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