Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding Easter in Architecture

By Gretchen Sawatzki

In honor of the Easter holiday I started Googling egg-shaped and basket-shaped architecture - first of all to see if it even existed, and secondly to share something fun! Worrying that I wouldn't turn up anything intriguing, I clicked around expecting no search results, but low and behold, I have found the mecca of Easter egg and basket-shaped architecture!

If you manufactured handmade baskets, you might advertise your product in a home furnishings and decor store, right? Well the Longaberger Company took advertising to another level, literally, like seven of them. Their office building in Newark, Ohio is not only strange, it is an exact scale replica of the company founder's favorite product, the Medium Market Basket. Construction began in 1995 and the bountiful basket took about two years to complete. And, after nearly 20 years alongside Route 16, this building has become a sought after landmark.

Egg-shaped architecture has captured the minds of architects around the world for centuries, including architect Wallace Harrison, who was commissioned by the state of New York to create a space that would accommodate the performing arts. At first glance you might mistaken the structure for a large sculpture, but The Egg (as it has been dubbed), has a concrete pillar base that suspends the egg shape above the city streets. Construction on The Egg began in 1966 and took 12 years to complete. Today, it houses two theaters used for all types of performing arts functions.

So, I have found the basket and found The Egg, but what about the Easter candy? Here's a bonus from the Easter Bunny. Not a building, but a large sculpture, the Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park, often referred to as the Chicago Bean, will satisfy your sweet tooth. Designed by British artist, Anish Kapoor, the "Chicago Bean" was created to reflect the city's famous skyline, and mimic a gateway with its arched form. The highly polished, seamless stainless steel design not only provides a physical gateway to the park, but also the physical embodiment of a jelly bean - the favorite shiny candy of the Easter basket tradition.

So there you have it, Easter can be found in architecture...and sculpture. From baskets, to eggs, and even beans, if you can dream it, they will build it, and Google will let you find it. To my amazement, it was rather easy to find basket and egg-shaped architecture, and I even found the bonus jelly bean! Have a Happy Easter!

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