elizabeth

26 Feb 2014 134 views
 
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photoblog image Watchtower

Watchtower

 

The Watchtower sits out on a promontory at the eastern end of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Designed by Mary Elizabeth Colter, from a distance the building's silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. The Indian watchtower at Desert View is not a copy, but what Colter called a 're-creation' of an Indian watchtower. Standing at 70 feet, with a 30-foot base, the tower is unique in having a concrete foundation and a steel framework well hidden in the stones of the tower. An outdoor observation deck is directly above the observation room.

 

The most noteworthy aspect of the exterior is the stonework--a variety of uncoursed rubble below and coursed sandstone above, with decorative patterns of triangular stones adding architectural interest directly below the tower's parapet and other bands of color masonry adding even more visual interest. Her use of texture in the masonry creates a visual depth. Large walls sections of the tower, for instance, have a relatively smooth finish that in places is broken up by slightly larger stones protruding from the wall surface. Fenestration in the tower is irregular--tiny windows or those with irregular shapes--with the exception of the observation area at the top of the structure where large trapezoids of plate glass allow the viewer to see the surrounding countryside in all directions. Colter's careful massing of forms added more architectural emphasis to the tower.

 

Grand Canyon National Park

Northern Arizona

 

Watchtower

 

The Watchtower sits out on a promontory at the eastern end of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Designed by Mary Elizabeth Colter, from a distance the building's silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. The Indian watchtower at Desert View is not a copy, but what Colter called a 're-creation' of an Indian watchtower. Standing at 70 feet, with a 30-foot base, the tower is unique in having a concrete foundation and a steel framework well hidden in the stones of the tower. An outdoor observation deck is directly above the observation room.

 

The most noteworthy aspect of the exterior is the stonework--a variety of uncoursed rubble below and coursed sandstone above, with decorative patterns of triangular stones adding architectural interest directly below the tower's parapet and other bands of color masonry adding even more visual interest. Her use of texture in the masonry creates a visual depth. Large walls sections of the tower, for instance, have a relatively smooth finish that in places is broken up by slightly larger stones protruding from the wall surface. Fenestration in the tower is irregular--tiny windows or those with irregular shapes--with the exception of the observation area at the top of the structure where large trapezoids of plate glass allow the viewer to see the surrounding countryside in all directions. Colter's careful massing of forms added more architectural emphasis to the tower.

 

Grand Canyon National Park

Northern Arizona

 

comments (30)

Good shot of a very interesting looking tower Elizabeth...
thanks for including the information that explains the different patterns in the layers of stone....petersmile
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you very much Peter!
I'm glad you enjoyed the info - it's a fascinating place!
You captured it well, Elizabeth,a wonderful place, inside, as well as out.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you kindly Mr. Croston! It is - I'm glad you enjoyed our visit there!
  • Ray
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • 26 Feb 2014, 02:00
I think it is quite sensitive to its place in a unique environment, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is indeed, Ray. Mary Colter was one of the first truly successful women architects in America. She designed several of the buildings in Grand Canyon National Park, all with deep attention paid to the history of the place.
Great photo Elizabeth....so it open to the public.....bet it a nice view from inside
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thanks Shane! It is - there's a gift shop on the ground level. It's amazingly done inside, and Frank and I got some of our best Canyon shots from the balconies.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 26 Feb 2014, 06:24
A bold feature isn't it. Have you been inside?
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is, I have several times. It's hard to photograph in there because there's very low light, and usually 100's of people milling around. But Frank and I got some of our best Canyon shots from the balconies!
  • Ginnie
  • Netherlands
  • 26 Feb 2014, 06:50
How refreshing to see the crafts[wo]manship of a female architect, Elizabeth, who clearly knew what she was doing. All of this is new to me. I had no clue it was in the Grand Canyon (where I've been twice but not for long).
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: I have a book on Mary Colter- she was really something, especially for her time. When you and Astrid come to visit, Frank and I will take you! smile
  • vintage
  • Australia
  • 26 Feb 2014, 06:59
Great looking structure well captured
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is very cool, Adrian! Thank you!
  • Lisl
  • Batheaston, England
  • 26 Feb 2014, 07:20
What a very attractive building, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It really is, Lisl - inside and out!
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 26 Feb 2014, 07:30
1932..... amazing work.
Absolute wonderful picture, love the trees and the bushes around the tower. You made a wonderful portrait of it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Colter
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is amazing isn't it, Astrid! It's a really beautiful spot - perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon.
I have a book on Mary Colter - she's most impressive!
Thanks for your interest, Astrid!
Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this tower and the result is rather impressive
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Yes, Mary Colter was known for her attention to detail!
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 26 Feb 2014, 08:01
and it seems to be still in function? Later I'll read your precise information, thank you, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is. There's a gift shop on the main floor. And much interest on all levels. Frank and I took some of our best Canyon shots from the balconies.
  • Gutteridge
  • Where latitude and aittitude meet
  • 26 Feb 2014, 08:41
All very interesting Elizabeth, I like to learn about places of which I know little, like England.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you Chad! Yes, it's interesting to learn the history of places - far & near!
nice composed, I didn't see this one when I visited the canyon
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you so much Chantal! It's way on the east end.
  • Aussie
  • Australia
  • 26 Feb 2014, 09:32
Lovely capture of this unique tower
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thanks so much Kerrin!
A fine shot Elizabeth of this interesting tower! smile
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you Martin! It is interesting, indeed!
I am wondering what it was meant to watch (the people in it, of course) Is it a forested area and they watched for forest fires?
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Well, this is just a replica she created for tourists, actually. There is a gift shop on the main floor, then several floors of Native American art, and with 2 balconies. It is a forested area, though - so it could easily be used for that function!
The tower I believe she was trying to replicate was probably meant to watch for enemies, but perhaps also fires. I couldn't really find any info on the purpose of the original structure.
  • blackdog
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 Feb 2014, 10:05
Very striking, is this where you took the view across the canyon from?
  • blackdog
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 Feb 2014, 10:05
Very striking, is this where you took the view across the canyon from?
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thanks Mike! Yes - from one of the balconies!
  • carreksmum
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 26 Feb 2014, 10:21
It looks such a simple structure until you read your interesting words and realise the depth of the design. It looks very at home where it is.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Isn't that amazing - I think it adds to the appeal to understand the complexity hidden in it's design! Thanks Pauline, for your thoughtful comments!
  • Alan
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 26 Feb 2014, 10:56
Even before I saw the title and notes, I knew where this was. I never knew about the steel framework, though. Am I right in thinking that Coulter designed other buildings in the Park?
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: I'm sure you did!
Yes, she designed the Hopi House and Bright Angel Lodge.
What an interesting building, I like the higgledy-piggledy stonework of the outside.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It truly is! I love that stonework too, Brian! Thank you!
What a wonderful structure! I wish I could have seen this when we were there, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is amazing! You'll just have to come back!
Beautifully captured Elizabeth...and thanks for the info!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you Ronky! And you're welcome!
Just needs Jimi Hendrix playing all a long the watchtower from the top of the tower.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Um - OK. smile
Great capture Elizabeth. I really like the stonework! Thank you for the words.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thanks so much Richard! The stonework is pretty amazing - the whole design is, really!
  • Anne
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 Feb 2014, 19:11
What an interesting looking building, thank you for all the information
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It is, Anne! You're welcome and thank YOU! smile
merci de prendre le temps de nous donner tous ces d├ętails smile C'est un vrai plaisir
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: You're so welcome, Magali! Thank you for your interest!
I was going to say "what a lovely OLD tower" - then I read your story. So not so old. Still like it though!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: smile She did a great job didn't she?! Thanks Sheila!
Certainly looks genuine!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: They did a great job, didn't they!
  • Robbyne
  • United States
  • 28 Feb 2014, 01:32
Its a very attractive tower for sure, well seen
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Thank you Robbyne!

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