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July 23: Amsterdam – Beurs 1

My Berlage-focused explorations of Amsterdam were, to my delight, capped off by a class tour of the Beurs van Berlage on our last morning there. The Beurs was built to replace the undersized Zocher stock exchange adjacent; it was completed in 1903. Its new style, much more minimalistic than established Dutch institutional architecture, was hugely controversial at the time. Later, though, it became a symbol of emerging modernism, and Berlage influenced seemingly all of the next generation of Dutch architects, particularly those of the Amsterdam School.

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The tall tower at the south end, demonstrating the interplay of brick and stone members found throughout.

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The central gable of the south end. Note the row of subtle relieving arches atop the large array of windows.

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De Bijenkorf on the other side of the Beursplein.

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Berlage used the idea of "negative" ornamentation here, that is, that ornament should be derived only by carving away at the basic forms, and not by accreting extra elements onto them. A fascinating idea, I think, and you can see it in evidence in the abutments of this arch, where the arch's profile is simply whittled away to a circular section in order to suggest columns. Note too how the circular section elegantly transitions to an octagon and then a square at the bases.

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Just inside, more Catalan vaults! That these were employed here makes sense, as Berlage was an adherent of structural rationalism, which I also find very appealing.

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Semi-abstract compositions in the foyer's stained-glass windows, along with the Amsterdam coat of arms.

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The tower was right there, so of course we just had to climb up in it.

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The well-worn bell. It must be complicated for that motor to stay fully synchronized with the bell's swing so that the belt doesn't snap, or maybe I'm misunderstanding how it works.

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Surveying the southern vista.

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Lots of embedded elements in the stairwell.

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Looking east, with the 13th-century Oude Kerk, the oldest building in the city, dominating the view.

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Looking north along the Damrak over the main mass of the Beurs, with Centraal Station visible at upper right.

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And the view south, with de Bijenkorf at left of course, and the Royal Palace further away at right.

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Contemplating the north.

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Now that's a patina!

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An unintentional, intriguing little view on the way back down.

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A peek back up through the complex tower structure.