Great architecture is a timeless and wonderful part of the human experience. Like any fine art and the fine artists who create it, some architects make architecture look easy. They come up with buildings that look so effortlessly wonderful, so done, and so aesthetically perfect that you can’t imagine that building looking like anything else. Then you have the architects whose minds and imaginations are totally unlike their contemporaries. Instead of reinterpreting the past, they invent a new future, perhaps with shape, or materials, or even just a totally different mindset, and their buildings are as unique as their thought processes.

And then you have the amalgamists, the quilters, the borrowers. The average ones can do good work; creating homages to the past, often with enough change as to rate a “neo” in front of their creations; neo-Gothic, neo-Tudor, and the like. The really good ones can combine elements as disparate as Victorian Queen Anne with traditional Japanese, with Prairie School, and come up with a truly fine building that is all of those, yet greater than the sum of its parts. John J. Petit was one of those guys.