Design Archives; Charles Blessing Interview
1999 NTW Preservation master Is actually static shots of Blessing’s designs/works and not interview footage, and also includes designs/works of graphic designer Paul Rand, interior designer Melanie Kahane, and architect O’Neil Ford, who were also interviewed as part of the NEA Design Archives project.
More material is available from this program at the WGBH Archive. If you are a researcher interested in accessing the collection at WGBH, please email email@example.com.
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- Design Archives
- Charles Blessing Interview
- Series Description
Series of original interviews. Series release date: 1981
- Program Description
240-minute interview on four videocassettes.
Tape 1 (60:00): Introduction; childhood in the Rocky Mountains; desire to be an architect from childhood; education at University of Colorado (architectural engineering); influence of the 20-volume New York Metropolitan Regional Area Plan on his decision to become a city planner; first job opportunities in Detroit; earliest city planning ideas; graduate education at MIT; influence of painting and etching on his planning ideas; influence of Eero Saarienen and George Booth on city planning; anecdote about refusal of city planning job in Washington, DC; first job in New Hampshire; influence of Bullie Mumford on city planning; influence of MIT art history professor Henry Seeber on him; job as librarian at MIT’s architecture library; travel to the world’s great cities as part of his education; issues of spending large sums of money on urban development versus other social programs.
Tape 2 (57:00): Criticism of the mistakes made by modern architects and the International Style; city planning designs in Chicago and Detroit, especially on riverfront properties; issue of autocratic versus democratic government in terms of city planning; how Central Park in New York and parks in Boston were created; possibilities for development in Detroit; damage LeCorbusier and the International Style caused to cities; democratization of architecture; need for public support on important architectural projects; city planning boom in Detroit and Houston in the 1970’s; debate over overbuilding in cities and the falsehood of most of the warnings; examples of Athens and San Francisco as times when public opinion halted disastrous city planning designs.
Tape 3 (57:45): Need for artists and architects to be visionaries and fight against technocrats who dismiss esthetics; changes in Detroit’s cityscape over the years; dramatic changes in cityscapes with advent of cars and highways in the 1950’s; Mies van de Rohe’s Lafayette Park in Detroit and Blessing’s role in it; urban blight in Detroit in the 1950’s, and the City Planning Commission’s plans for improvement; movement of shopping centers to suburbs; Lafayette Park’s effort to keep people and shops in the city; differences between city planning and urban design, and Detroit’s efforts in both fields; his 3-D plans for the entire city, the first of their kind anywhere; refusal to bow to pressures of other city officials when designing; humane elements of Lafayette Park; effects of Detroit’s riots of the 1960’s on the city; city planners need to restore hope in the cities.
Tape 4 (57:30): School system in inner-city Detroit and Lafayette Park; struggle to build the Detroit Medical Center; response to criticism that urban renewal displaces the poor, especially blacks; mistakes made in the urban renewal of Boston’s North End in the 1930’s; some of the failures to deliver housing for the urban poor in city planning, but overall success of the plans; his faith in the future of cities and the public’s desire to see cities survive; idea of the U.S. having a national plan for city development as other countries do, and the need for regional planning commissions; the need for a sense of urgency both nationally and internationally in developing opportunities for urban betterment-- must be more popular education on the subject.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- Unedited footage
- City planners
- City planning
- Blessing, Charles A. (Interviewee)
- Chicago: “Design Archives; Charles Blessing Interview,” 02/04/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed April 26, 2017, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F1D7C3D911184136B055D14C37E2FDE6.
- MLA: “Design Archives; Charles Blessing Interview.” 02/04/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. April 26, 2017. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F1D7C3D911184136B055D14C37E2FDE6>.
- APA: Design Archives; Charles Blessing Interview. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F1D7C3D911184136B055D14C37E2FDE6