The NAS Building

The Façade

A frontal view of the building readily reveals the architect's green and white color scheme. The luxuriant shrubbery of the semiformal garden counterpoints the facade's copper ornamentation. The broad, inviting terrace with its comfortable wrap-around bench, and the building walls, of warm-toned New York Dover marble, supply the white portion of the color scheme. Gleaming Vermont Imperial Danby was used for the wings and auditorium, because by the time they were added, deposits of New York Dover, with its high magnesium content, had been quarried to exhaustion during World War II. Magnesium-bearing crystals are still clearly visible to the visitor to the Academy's main terrace who takes a moment to search for them.

From roofline to terrace, beautiful decorative detail is exhibited on the building's 260-foot facade. The eaves are capped with a copper crest, or cheneau, composed of alternate deep relief figures of the owl and the lynx, symbolizing wisdom and alert observation, with at each corner a coiled serpent--another ancient symbol of wisdom and an object of veneration. A frieze bears a quotation in Greek from Aristotle. Translated, it reads:

The investigation of truth is in one way hard and in another way easy. An indication of this is found in the fact that no one is able to attain the truth entirely, while on the other hand no one fails entirely, but everyone says something true about the nature of things, and by the union of all a considerable amount is amassed. Metaphysics a. 1. 993a30-993b4

Below the frieze the architrave is supported somewhat untraditionally by pilasters carved in the face of the stones. Flanking the building entrance is a pair of footed herm lamps in the form of female heads crowned by the symbols for fire, water, air, and earth.

Read More:

... A Temple of Science  Recognition of Need  The Architect  The Setting and the Grounds  Description of the Building  The Façade  The Window Panels  The Doors  The Main Foyer and the Great Hall  The Library and the Members' Room  The Lecture Room and the Board Room  The Wings  The Auditorium  The Albert Einstein Memorial

Photo by Carol M. Highsmith


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