Ragdale Ring Competition 2016
Sponsored by Ragdale Foundation
"I 'Heart' Ragdale" Submission
Thomas Tallmadge wrote of Howard van Doren Shaw, “Perhaps one might say of him, he was the most rebellious of the conservatives and the most conservative of the rebels.” This described Shaw’s abilities to skillfully combine classical and early modernist architectural conventions. His work can also be seen as a careful mix of Arts and Crafts as well as Prairie School architecture. In plain, he was adept at composing the ornate with the simple.
The design for the Ragdale Ring is a reflection of his architectural explorations that mix forms, figures, styles, and symbols into a cohesive architecture. The stage highlights and reinvents three recognizable features of Shaw’s houses and the Ragdale residence: barrel vaulted ceilings, columns at entrances, and flower and fruit baskets.
Shaw’s interiors are often marked with his use of barrel vaulted ceilings of varying arch profiles. The ribs and main frame work for the stage reflects the two prominent profiles in the Ragdale residence, the basket arch and the rounded arch. The translation of arches not only portrays the depth and axial connection of the vaulted ceilings but also clearly demarcates the performance area.
Another signature feature of Shaw’s houses is the use of columns at entrances. This traditional architectural form is used at the front entry of the Ragdale house, at the entry path to the original Ragdale Ring, and was used to frame the original stage area of the Ring. The use of columns is reinterpreted as semi-transparent panels layered to create a backdrop to the performances.
Many of Shaw’s houses, including Ragdale, pair a simple framework or enclosure with an ornate, detailed interior. The interior of the stage is similarly adorned with a translated motif of a fruit or flower basket used often in his houses to signifying hospitality. The interior of the stage is an invitation to viewer to inspect the details of construction and actively engage the performance. The use of colors is also reflective of the exterior and interior treatment of the Ragdale house. Shades of the uniquely bluish-green color used on the exterior of the house color the panels while the flowers reflect the warmth of the interior.