The American Academy in Rome building on the Gianicolo hill (1912-1914) is one of just a handful of structures outside of the United States designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White—by any reckoning the most prominent designers of the Gilded Age. As it happens, firm partner Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909) was among the founders of the Academy and President of the AAR when the building was first conceived. The building has a clear Renaissance inspiration (which it shares with the MM&W north and south wings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC), with a five-bay facade, a ‘piano nobile’, and an interior courtyard with a Paul Manship (FAAR’12) fountain in its center. It also contains most of the living and working quarters for the Rome Prize Fellows, the Library, a gallery and administrative offices, plus public rooms for many of the Academy’s events.
And now, thanks to the efforts of current Fellows Kiel Moe, Jon Calame, and a host of helping hands, the Academy’s MM&W building has been realized for the 2009 holiday season in gingerbread and gumdrops. It’s something approaching 1:100 scale, carefully constructed from the original plans. The universal reaction so far from Academy alums and friends: “Don’t eat it!”. Here’s a photo essay on how this sugary architectural wonder—all dedicated to the Academy’s Kitchen staff—came to be. Photo thanks throughout: Jon Calame and Pamela Keech (FAAR’82). (more…)