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Channeling Bruno Möhring

Bruno Möhring [1863–1929] was a German architect who worked in the Jugendstil, German counterpart of the Art Nouveau; I associate the style with Munich but can’t tell you why. Möhring’s career produced a wide variety of project types but among the most interesting is the U-Bahnhof at Bülowstraße which opened for service in March 1902. Comparing this early tinted photograph of the station with the building we saw in 2016, it was doubled in length some time later. I have great admiration for this building and am glad that it has survived, given all that Berlin has experienced in the last one hundred and eighteen years.

Just seven years after Bülowstraße began serving Berliners, Agincourt, too, opened its own “U-bahn” station at the southwest corner of Louisa where it crosses Broad Street. Much smaller in scale and hybrid in function, I’d conceived the Northwest Iowa Traction Co. headquarters on a more obviously American pattern — like postcard views I have for terminals throughout the Midwest and in expected styles — with both masonry construction (probably glazed terra cotta) and cast iron for the train shed. Why Möhring hadn’t crossed my mind is disappointing: I’d have had a much easier time with this beautiful building as inspiration.

The gable end of Möhring’s design is so beautifully balanced. The heavy masonry pylons counterpoised with delicate cast iron tracery of the curtain wall and the wafer thinness of the metal roof are masterfully done (in my not-so-humble opinion) and have much to offer my reconsideration of the NITC station.

By the way, notice how his design grows into its full expression: three bays of actual covered platform eventually becoming five. That’s one of the advantages of industrialized building, of which this is a fine example, where modularity played such a powerful role.

For sheer contrast, consider the Forest Hills station on the Boston T elevated system, a structure of remarkably similar size and proportion. This was a building circa 1909, just seven years after Bülowstraße.

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