Asheville Design Center luncheon fundraiser will feature Guastavino expert, tour

Here’s the press release from the Asheville Design Center:


Asheville Design Center will celebrate another year of Designing for Community as a fundraiser, with special guest John Ochsendorf, MIT Professor, MacArthur Fellow, and author of GUASTAVINO VAULTING: THE ART OF STRUCTURAL TILE. A benefit luncheon will be held Friday, September 27 at noon at Christmount Conference Center just outside Black Mountain.

Rafael Guastavino discovered Asheville when he came from Spain to design the tiled dome entrance to the Biltmore House and the famed swimming pool. Eventually he would design and build Asheville’s Basilica of St. Lawrence where he is buried.

“Professor Ochsendorf will dazzle guests with stories of how Guastavino was trained by old country masters to build domed ceilings over large spaces without scaffolding,” said Chris Joyell, Executive Director of the Asheville Design Center.

Ochsendorf directs the Guastavino research project at MIT and is the curator of Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces, the first major exhibition celebrating the Guastavino Company and its architectural legacy, now on view at the National Building Museum in Washington DC through January 20, 2014 and at the Museum of the City of New York in spring 2014. Ochsendorf has received numerous international awards, including a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Between the 1880s and the 1950s, the Guastavino Company oversaw the construction of thousands of vaulted ceilings across the United States. Guastavino patented building systems here that were hundreds of years old in Europe. In Spain, people continue building domes using the Guastavino method, except there it is usually called thin tile vaulting or Catalan vaulting.  

Because they served only as contractors on most projects, the Guastavino firm’s accomplishments have remained relatively unknown to the public. Thanks to Ochsendorf’s research, writing and traveling exhibition, people all across the United States are rediscovering the Guastavino legacy.

Guests will also learn about the work of the Asheville Design Center on planning for Guastavino Place in Asheville and Guastavino domes at Hall-Fletcher Elementary School in West Asheville.

After lunch, there will be a ribbon cutting for the walking tour of 12 interpretive sites of the remains of Rafael Guastavino’s Rhododendron Estate, including the kiln and the wine cellar, which is listed on the National Register. Guests will then take a guided tour.

Tickets for the Asheville Design Center fundraiser are available at $50 or $100, which includes Ochsendorf’s book, at Seating is limited.

For further information, please contact Chris Joyell at

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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One thought on “Asheville Design Center luncheon fundraiser will feature Guastavino expert, tour

  1. Peter Austin

    I was just wondering about the status of the project to build Guastavino Domes at Hall Fletcher School. Where the domes built? If not, is there a schedule proposed for the project. Thanks for any information you can provide.
    Best wishes,
    Peter Austin

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