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Archive for Friday, June 5, 1992

June 5, 1992

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Elements of music and domestic architecture will be mingled in a public talk on "The Neighborhood as Architectural Fugue" scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Dennis Domer, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance and associate dean at the Kansas University School of Architecture and Urban Design, will present the lecture, which is sponsored by the preservation alliance.

In an interview this week, Domer said he would use the musical simile to help his audience understand how architectural elements come together to create "a neighborhood," just as different voices or musical elements meld to create a fugue.

Domer said he planned to show slides of various Lawrence neighborhoods, including the 900 and 1000 blocks of Rhode Island Street and the 1400 block of Kentucky Street as well as University Place, Hillcrest and Old West Lawrence neighborhoods.

THE IDEA, HE said, is to demonstration how elements of domestic architecture, repeated across a neighborhood, blend in a meaningful way.

Domer cited window and door shapes, porches and railings, roofs, facades, columns and building materials. Similar considerations in a neighborhood context include street shapes and sidewalks.

"I'll just break it down and show them these elements," he said. He hopes to help people understand "how a neighborhood image is made."

Domer said he also planned to discuss "false notes in the fugue" architectural efforts that detract from a neighborhood's visual harmony.

He noted the German poet Goethe said, "Architecture is frozen music."

"THERE'S A LOT of theory behind this music and architecture connection," he said, noting certain harmonies are based on mathematical principles in both music and architecture.

Domer added that a project such as the one under way on the Priestly house, 1505 Ky., "is an attempt to look at the architectural environment . . . and create (new) multifamily housing in that image."

The Priestly house, a Greek Revival influenced house built in 1869, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is being refurbished, and two new, architecturally similar structures are being built north of it.

Other local efforts have not been as successful, Domer said.

"I'm for development," he noted. "I just want the old well-integrated with the new."

Domestic architecture in the United States is "incredible" because of its variability, he said, noting in particular that German architects who have visited the KU school and toured the city always remark on that quality in Lawrence.

"It's only in differences that we have meaning," Domer said.

His lecture on Saturday is intended as "an attempt to help people look at what they're seeing. It's the details coming together that make the buildings, or the neighborhood."

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