The Basilica of Saint Lawrence: Rafael Guastavino

The Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, North Carolina

For anyone who visits Biltmore the name Rafael Guastavino resonates as the Spanish architect and builder who was responsible for the construction of the Biltmore arch supports and swimming pool. So fascinated by this structure I sought out the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Asheville to see more of his work. This church is the only property where Rafael was the primary architect and builder. He is also buried in the Basilica.

Rafael Guastavino spent three decades in America involved in crafting many American structures. Following are a sampling of his credits:

  • New York City – Carnegie Hall, Grant’s Tomb, Grand Central Terminal, St. John the Divine Church
  • Boston – Boston Public Library
  • Washington D.C. – Supreme Court Building
  • Chicago – Rockefeller Chapel at University of Chicago

He developed a system of self supporting arches which he patented as the “Tile Arch System.” Using tile and mortar his system was used in domes and other vaulting systems throughout the world. To date his process is still in use. Below is a more in depth picture of the dome of the Basilica of St. Lawrence.

Thanks, Rafael for coming to America.

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