By Frank M. Snyder; Introduction by Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker
Between 1906 and 1914, New York architect Frank M. Snyder published Building Details, a serial produced in twelve parts over eight years. Each issue consisted of ten beautifully executed sixteen- by twenty-one-inch drawings showing details of houses, civic buildings, banks, churches, clubs, and other structures designed by some of the period’s leading architects including McKim, Mead & White, John Russell Pope, Grosvenor Atterbury, and Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. Redrawing from the architects’ working drawings, Snyder paid careful attention to scale, materials, and dimensions, and incorporated full explanatory notes as well as small photographs of the projects within each plate. Intended as a design tool for architects, Building Details gives numerous construction and design suggestions that Snyder urged could be “readily adapted to any Work having similar requirements, using different materials, sizes and proportions than those shown, either for more or less expensive work.” In addition to showing the problem worked out, the drawings also would “save much valuable time in preparing Drawings of similar work” and “call attention to many things often overlooked in the preparation of Working Drawings and Specifications.”
Not only is Building Details important in showing how architects learned and drew from the designs of the great masters; it is a rare and beautiful documentation of how these important early-twentieth-century architects realized their designs. Snyder’s 120 plates clarify details that continue to confront architects today and allow us to thoroughly see how the buildings we admire were put together. Building Details is a trove of knowledge that goes beyond conventional printed sources and continues to be an important resource for architects working today.