The Zantzinger, Borie & Medary office was born when Milton B. Medary joined Zantzinger & Borie in 1910. Following Medary's death in 1929 the office name would revert to its earlier form. As with any firm as large and successful as Zantzinger, Borie & Medary, it is difficult to separate the individual roles of the designer, manager, businessman. In this case it may be possible to divide the buildings according to style in order to accord design responsibility. Some evidence corroborates this approach. For example, in his letter of recommendation supporting Borie's application for membership in the national AIA, Clarence C. Zantzinger stated that that part of the Philadelphia Parkway design which depicted the Philadelphia Museum of Art raised in an acropolis-like form and surrounded by Philadelphia institutions of art and learning could be directly attributed to C. L. Borie, Jr. While only part of this design was realized, that of the Museum site, it is clear that Borie's influence on the ultimate form of the Parkway is considerable. More elusive is the hand of Zantzinger, who had trained as a civil engineer at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, but rounded off his architectural education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His and Borie's proclivity for the Beaux-Arts perhaps led the office into several collaborations with Paul P. Cret. Zantzinger, Borie & Medary proved to be Cret's favorite collaborator, working with him on several projects, including the Detroit Institute of Arts museum. (This connection with Cret is not surprising considering that Zantzinger was president of the Alliance Francais in Philadelphia and had been honored by the French Government with the Legion of Honor. Borie, also, could boast a French family connection.)
In fact, outside of Philadelphia the office could be overshadowed by the dominating Cret connection. Unlike Cret, however, the partners did not adhere primarily to an updated, abstract classicism. Instead the influence of Milton B. Medary's sure hand balanced the Beaux-Arts with their many medieval revival and collegiate gothic buildings. Thus, the office produced such disparate buildings as the Moderne Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Building with its Lee Lawrie sculpture and both the Horn and Foulke dormities for Princeton University. Furthermore, they were equally at ease with the popular Colonial and Georgian Revival styles and were employed at Church Farm School (Glenlock, PA), where they ably manipulated the Pennsylvania Colonial Revival and at the Pennsylvania Hospital (Philadelphia) with a more formal Georgian Revival.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Biographical Note - The Architect, New York : Forbes Pub. Co., 1923-1931.
Death notice of Milton Bennett Medary, President of AIA in 1926
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