Design for the Halls of Justice

Design for the Halls of Justice

Design for the Halls of Justice ('The Tombs'), New York: front elevation
John Haviland (1792-1852)
1835
Pen and pencil on paper
RIBA No. SC28/2 (7)

This drawing shows the front of a prison, known as the Halls of Justice, in New York City. The architect John Haviland was born in Taunton, Somerset but moved to America in 1816. He wrote a book entitled 'Builder's Assistant', which was one of the earliest architectural pattern books written and published in North America.

Haviland's design for this building was inspired by an engraving of an Egyptian mausoleum. Egyptian temples were massive structures characterized by thick walls, flat roofs and closely spaced columns. These columns are built in a style known as palmiform, which represents palm fronds tied to a pole. Other Egyptian columns look like lotus buds or papyrus. The pattern above the windows and over the front entrance represents a vulture, with widespread wings. This symbolized protection and maternal care, and was often used to decorate temple ceilings in Ancient Egypt.