Idiom of the Day
know a thing or two (about someone or something)
to be well informed about someone or something
My father works in a software company and he knows a thing or two about computers.
The Jahrhunderthalle Centennial Hall of 1911 1912 in what was formerly the city of Breslau in Germany now Wroclaw, Poland was a major milestone in the development of the enclosure of large public spaces by reinforced concrete structures. It was by far the largest of several pavilions built in Scheitniger Park now Szczytnicki Park to house the 1913 centennial of Germanys liberation from Napoleonic rule. The Jahrhunderthalle was intended to serve as an exhibition space, an assembly hall, and a venue for concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment.
Wroclaw in southwestern Poland fell to the Prussian armies of Frederick the Great in 1741, to eventually be renamed Breslau. By the early twentieth century the city had become a major center for the arts, in part because the Expressionist architect Hans Poelzig was director 1903 1916 of the Royal Art and Craft Academy. Breslaus largely German population then exceeded half a million, and the government decided to create what it called a metropolis of the east. Accordingly, the architect Max Berg, director of Frankfurt am Mains City Building Department, was appointed City Building Commissioner. In Frankfurt, he had been deeply involved with the construction of the citys Festhalle 1907 1909, designed by Friedrich von Thiersch that experience was significant for his work in Breslau. He had also designed the development plan for Berlin.
Beginning in the second half of 1910, Berg conceived and developed the structure of the Jahrhunderthalle. Engineering calculations were made by Gunther Trauer of the City Building Department. Trauer described it as an incredibly clever design, although he admitted that it was unusually large and challenging for him. Nevertheless, he rose to the challenge, and the building is evidence of an admirable symbiosis between architect and engineer. Together they produced two feasibility studiesone that employed a fire-resistant steel structure and another of reinforced concreteand prepared two sets of contract documents. Because the City Board of Directors was adamant that the exhibition building should be no-risk [and] fire-proof, the former structural system was virtually precluded because of the bulkiness of concrete-cased steel. On the other hand, such a huge reinforced concrete space had never before been built, and conservative members of the board doubted its practicability. However, after six months of deliberations Bergs reinforced concrete proposal was accepted in June 1911 on the condition that the cost be reduced by 10 percent.
The clients insistence on functional flexibility had generated difficulties for Berg. Conventional wisdom pointed to a long space for an exhibition hall and a central plan for the other events. The first design was based upon a longitudinal plan, but that was soon modified to become a central circular space with four semicircular apses that are reached through enormous arches. As built, the hall encloses almost 60,000 square feet 5,600 square meters of floor space. It provides standing room for 10,000 people the seating capacity is only 6,000. The 137-foot-high 42-meter central space is roofed with a 212-foot-diameter 65-meter dome, formed by 32 half-arches of reinforced concreteleft exposed for acoustic purposesspringing from the massive poetic substructure to a tension ring at the apex. In its day it was the widest monolithic dome in the world. The vast interior is lit by four tiers of curtained clerestory windows, supported by the half-acrches and continuous around the entire structure, which diminish in height as they rise. That gives the dome the appearance of a series of concentric rings. The apses, also structurally formed from reinforced concrete half-acrches, have walls glazed in the same manner, adding to the stunning impact of the space. Although the structural system was revolutionary, the spatial organization and the overall form that it yielded had a Renaissance quality, very like the Church of S. Maria della Consolazione 1503 at Todi, Italy, by Donato Bramante and Cola di Caprarola. Bergs inspiration was complex: he drew upon the spirit of Gothic architecture and the esthetic theories of the Frenchman Durand and the Hollanders Lauweriks and Berlage. The monumentality of the huge building evokes the romantic, unbuildable Beaux Arts projects of Boullee and Ledoux at the same time, Berg avoids ornament for its own sake. The result is that, artistically, the Jahrhunderthalle denies the