Urban Art Museum

The Color of Money (part 1)

If you are an architect, it is not often that you think of architects and money.  No I am not talking about the lack of money that you can expect to make as an architect, but architects on money.  In the United States the canvas of money is often reserved for politicians by politicians.  The closest thing to an architect featured on an American dollar would be Thomas Jefferson who is featured on the useless two dollar bill, but why not Frank Lloyd Wright?  I borrowed a book from a friend of mine, and when I began to read the book an envelope of money fell out of the book.  I was amazed to see that the money was not only beautiful, but featured the work and faces of influential modern architects.  You know your an architect when the first thing you think about is the design and composition of the money and not how much money you found.  Those of you who went to design school will also know what I mean. Yes I did return the money to its rightful owner.  The Color of Money is a series that will continue to examine architecture and its importance in our culture and why architecture and architects are frequently depicted on money.

Mark featuring Alvar Aalto

Mark featuring Finlandia Hall

The first note pictured above is a Finnish mark depicting Finlandia Hall on one side and Finnish architect Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto (February 3, 1898 – May 11, 1976) on the other.  Finlandia Hall is an icon to not just Helsinki, but the country of Finland.  The structure combines two unique programs into one serving as both a concert venue and congress building.  What is unique in Finland when compared to the United States is that construction and maintenance issues are tolerated for the sake of art and architecture.  Finlandia Hall has had severe warping issues with the exterior Carrara marble panels, and have had to be replaced.  Despite the cost of maintaining this beautiful building the structure has maintained its iconic status along with Alvar Aalto being featured on the 50 mark before its replacement by the Euro in 2002.  A unique feature of the mark’s design is that the patterning and coloring of the money is a graphic play of the unique texture of shade and shadow on the facade of Finlandia Hall.  The money not only features architecture, but its design is inspired by architecture.  The one feature that I have been unable to identify is the floor plan in the upper right hand corner.

Tolar featuring Jože Plečnik

Tolar featuring  Narodna in Univerzitetna Knjižnica, Ljubljana

Yugoslavian Jože Plečnik can be credited with transforming the modest city of Ljubljana into the capital of Slovenia. Plečnik’s work is so integral to the cultural identity of the people of Slovenia that in 2007 the country of Slovenia declared it to be the year of Plečnik. Plečnik is responsible for the creation of nearly a dozen masterpieces in Ljubljana, and also played a key role in the development of the plan for the city. His name may be unfamiliar to us, but his countrymen will never forget the importance of Plečnik in their culture. The back of the 500 tolar features Narodna in Univerzitetna Knjižnica, one of Plečnik’s architectural masterpieces in Ljubljana.

Franken featuring Le Modulor

Franken featuring Le Corbusier

Of the three bills featured in this article, the ten franken is the only one which features an architect and no specific building. The ten franken on one side displays an image of Le Modulor, the result of Corbusier’s search for a system of ideal proportions. Le Corbusier’s role in the development of the international style is so pivitol that despite becoming a French citizen in his thirties, the Swiss still embrace the fact that he was born in Switzerland.

Perhaps one day American culture will embrace architects for their efforts in shaping the cities that we live in today.  If you have any comments  in regards to the money featured in this article, or know of other money from around the world that features an architect or their works please let us know and we will feature it in the next installment of this series.