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House of the Americas Turns 100: Paul Philippe Cret and the Architecture of Dialogue

An exhibition on the Organization of American States (OAS) Headquarters Building

Curated by Tom Mellins and designed by Pure+Applied

April 29, 2010 – August 29, 2010

One hundred years ago, on April 26, 1910, President William H. Taft, along with hemispheric leaders, dedicated the House of the Americas, a building which represents the regional cooperative work improving the lives of the peoples in the Americas. This magnificent building, which houses the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), was built with generous funding from Andrew Carnegie and has become one of his most notable public gifts. The building’s architecture represents the Organization’s objective of promoting peace, democracy, human rights, security, and development.

To commemorate the Centennial of the building, the OAS Art Museum of the Americas announces the opening of House of the Americas Turns 100: Paul Philippe Cret and the Architecture of Dialogue, an exhibition with a collection of original plans and drawings by its architect, Paul Philippe Cret. Blueprints and sketches that have never before been displayed in Washington, DC will show how the building was conceived in the spirit of promoting hemispheric cooperation.

Curated by architectural historian and writer Tom Mellins and designed by Pure+Applied, the exhibition— which begins in the main OAS building and continues in the Museum—provides an introduction to Cret and his travels to South America, where he derived inspiration for his use of interior detail and color within the building. It features a number of original artifacts, including one of the American Competitions T‐Square portfolios that documented all of the entries for the competition for the design of the main OAS building (formerly the Pan‐American Union Building and also known as the ‘House of the Americas’).

A French‐American architect and industrial designer, Paul Philippe Cret was born in Lyon. He began to practice in the U.S. in 1907, his first major project being the House of the Americas. Considered an architectural wonder of its time, Cret designed the building with Albert Kelsey as an architectural symbol of the unity of the hemisphere by combining the major cultural influences from Organization’s Member States, including Spanish‐Colonial, Native American, French, Portuguese and English.