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Charles Follen McKim

McKim, Charles Follen, 1847–1909, American architect, b. Chester co., Pa., studied (1867–70) at the École des Beaux-Arts. He was one of the founders of the firm of McKim, Mead, and Bigelow, which in 1879 became McKim, Mead, and White (see William Rutherford Mead and Stanford White). A vast number of important commissions came into the firm's offices, in which McKim's spirit and taste were the controlling forces. Following a policy of adhering to classical architecture and its Renaissance derivatives, the partners erected a long series of buildings with a restrained classical sobriety that turned the tide away from the vagaries of the prevailing romanticism. Early examples of the style were the old Madison Square Garden (1891, now demolished), New York City, and the Boston Public Library (1888–95).

McKim was influential in the development of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, for which he built the Agricultural Palace. He designed a fine series of clubhouses in New York City, of which the Harvard Club and the University Club are two; a number of buildings for Columbia Univ., including Low Memorial Library; the Pennsylvania RR station (1904–10, now demolished); the Pierpont Morgan Library; and numerous fine commercial and residential works. His restorations include the work on Thomas Jefferson's buildings at the Univ. of Virginia and on the White House at Washington, D.C.

McKim was associated with D. H. Burnham, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and F. L. Olmsted, Jr. (see under Olmsted, F. L.), on the Senate Park Commission, which drew up plans for the development of Washington and the District of Columbia. He was first president of the American Academy in Rome, to the founding of which he had devoted many years of zealous effort.

See M. Broderick, Triumvirate: McKim, Mead &White (2011).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Architecture: Biographies


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