Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Illumination played a significant role in many ways during the Industrial Revolution. The technologies of this revolution allowed people, information, and goods to travel faster, thus shedding light on different civilizations. These civilizations were showcased at the World Exhibitions, held in enormous temporary glass and iron structures, which also incorporated illumination in the more literal sense—by letting light into the space. As decoration from non-western civilizations was showcased, the styles were integrated into Western design.

Throughout time there is a constant rotation of styles, both the returning of the old and integration of the new. Throughout the rotation seems to always be the overwhelming acceptance or rejection of Ancient Greece and Rome. In America, “Jefferson’s adaptation of a specific ancient building also gave authoritative approbation to the idea that a new building could successfully duplicate an ancient model; this would soon lead to an outright Roman and Greek revival” (Roth 2007). While Britain celebrated Rome, the new nation of the United States celebrated Greece. This division was caused by a revolution, which bread the rejection of all things British, meaning not following in the Roman style.

The new technologies emerging warranted new buildings, meaning new styles were also needed. The development of trains called for train sheds, and the new product-- iron-- warranted exploration. Through exploration, it was found that buildings could be easily and quickly constructed from iron and glass, and giant greenhouses were built as party houses for the wealthy. Important to the birth of the Industrial Revolution was the emergence of a middle class, which came from “changes in population growth, industrial production, and transportation” (Roth 2007). The Industrial Revolution in a sense made the middle class possible, while the middle class did somewhat the same for the Industrial Revolution.

These movements reflect upon the past, strongly incorporating themes from ancient and more recent movements. The reflections came in the form of columns and porticos on buildings, as well as the Roman style of surface decoration. In America, the Grecian Revival style was used not only on buildings of great importance, but also on other buildings. Revolutions, movements, during this time were in fluid movement, often “so interconnected that they can be thought of as operating in a circle, each feeding into the next” (Roth 2007).

There is a source for all design movements. These sources include historical precedents, new materials, and revolutions. Roth states, “The Modern epoch is characterized by… a worldwide shift away from centralized, authoritarian government… a growth in the power of business corporations, and… a decrease in the political power of the established church” (Roth 2007). In this time period, all three came together to create a radically quick-changing rotation of design styles. Another contributor to the speed of change in design was how quickly a style spread, thus becoming overused more quickly than at other points in history. Also, as the distance between nations was shortened by new technologies, new sources emerged in both the West and the East.

The actions of the past have implications on the future. The design actions of the ancient civilizations, especially Greece and Rome, created such a lasting impact that hundreds of years later, their developments and styles were still being imitated and transformed. Their actions became [re]actions—actions done again, but in a different way, or sometimes closely copied. The reaction to the growth of industrialism was to create new structures from new materials. Reactions to government lead to revolutions, which in a reaction to revolutions created new designs.

Roth, Leland, M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alternatives | Unit Summary

Throughout time, styles and information alternate. Every time something comes back around, some portion of it is done alternatively, and somewhere in the midst of it all, sometimes there is something new. This was made clear in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque design.

After the fall of Rome, most of the Western world was in disarray, with no major empire dominating the landscape. Instead, the ever-strong Catholic Church and the architecture that came with it provided alternatives from one area to another. Yet, at the same time, the principles of Gothic architecture were boundless throughout most of Western Europe. These principles included verticality, integration of light into the interior space, as well as making the walls appear lighter, needing the support of flying buttresses. For Christianity, these principles had strong meaning—light is a symbol of salvation and God, and the verticality reached toward God. The cathedrals were built to glorify God, as well as instill awe and fear into those who worshipped there.

Though many aspects of the Gothic Cathedrals seemed new, they were built upon alternatives of the old. They incorporated the plans of the churches and basilicas of the past, as well as improved up on them. Many ties to the past can be found in the details of these structures, such as the severely stretched Corinthian columns. Also in the details can be found the ways in which an illiterate society was taught scripture, as “The Gothic cathedrals were covered virtually from top to bottom with sculptural representation of biblical stories” (Roth 2007).

As time progressed, an interest emerged in Ancient works. This curiosity and interest leads into the Renaissance. During this time, prevalent architecture alternates away from being only concerned with places of worship and also begins to re-integrate other public buildings as well as private homes. There are two reasons for this: the first being a return to the ancient world; the second being the rise of a wealthy merchant class, who donated money for buildings to be built and who wanted their own homes to be grand. These houses manifested in two forms: the Palazzo and the Villa, the first of which was in the city, the latter was in the country. Both shared a characteristic used in homes for centuries, and still at least somewhat applicable today. The lowest level was the most public and was where commerce was conducted. The second level, known as the piano nobile, was a semi-public space, where guests would be entertained. The third level was the private living quarters of the family. Villas were introduced by Palladio outside of Venice, an alternative city in the fact that it was practically floating in a marsh. In these structures, pieces of the ancient world can be found, such as in the Palazzo Rucellai, on which, “Alberti [remodeling architect] superimposed three orders of pilasters, as the Romans had done in the orders applied to the Theater of Marcellus in Rome and the Colosseum, with Tuscan Doric on the bottom, a variant of Ionic in the middle, and a loosely interpreted Corinthian at the top” (Roth 2007). More boldly, the Villa Capra was built by Palladio to have a temple façade on all four sides, emphasizing the importance of the household.

As the Renaissance wore on, artists, scholars, architects, and designers began to experiment outside of the rules of the ancients. This resulted in some failures, such as the strange way the roundels on the Foundling Hospital run into the columns. Eventually such experimentation would lead into the more refined Baroque period, which dealt more with emotional rather than rational. Roth states, “Baroque architecture was made deliberately complex. Instead of clarity, there was ambiguity; instead of the uniformity of elements and overall effect, there was studied variety; instead of regularity, contrast. Where there had been planer forms, with an emphasis on the surface, now the emphasis was placed on plasticity and special depth” (Roth 2007).

This period provided many alternatives to the Renaissance, and brought back the importance of light found in Gothic architecture. However, this time, the light was more direct instead of necessarily flooding a space. Also, art and architecture comes together, breaking the Renaissance boundary of the two being exclusive. From this comes such amazing works as The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, in which, “The autonomy of architecture is here eliminated, becoming now an armature for sculpture and painting meant to impress upon the viewer a mystical experience” (Roth 2007). Also reincorporated into design was the use of water to re-introduce clarity and emphasize fluidity.

Throughout time, design is always alternating onto something new. After one generation or many, the desire for something new emerges. However, nothing is entirely new, but complex alternatives of the foundations once lay. These alternatives become the basis for the next movement, constantly morphing into something new and different, but not entirely so. All one needs to do is look closely enough to see that the principles of Egypt, Greece, and Rome hold strong.

Roth, Leland, M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


opus words

Between the Renaissance and the Baroque, a great transition took place. Gothic had introduced something new, for the most part, and those of the Renaissance made a return to ancient rules and thought, and “what set this younger generation of scholars apart from the earlier Scholastics was that the Renaissance scholars were less interested in how the ancients could be interpreted to corroborate scripture and church dogma than what the ancients had to say in their own right.” (Roth 2007), making a transition from religion to rational thought and humanism. As Roth states, “After a millennium, man was once more the measurer of al things. Everything was possible for humankind, believed Pico, for to man ‘it is granted to have whatever he chooses, to be whatever he wills’” (Roth 2007).
The rules followed so closely in the Renaissance were broken purposefully in the Baroque. Experimentation was key.


At the heart of the transition lay a datum line of sorts. This datum is the shift from thought to emotion. The Renaissance focused on reason and solidity, while the Baroque rejected reason to some extent and moved toward emotion. This difference is illustrated clearly between Michelangelo’s David and Bernini’s David. Michelangelo shows a pensive David, standing in true classical form. In great contrast, Bernini sculpts David in action, showing great emotion in the facial expression. Through the stone, motion can be seen, and the story is better told in that moment.

david david

In the field of interior architecture, most of what we do has to do with what people see. We translate our vision for a space into what others’ vision will see. For any design, there must be many revisions of a vision, sometimes completely changing the vision altogether. What we initially envision often turns out to be different from the reality after many revisions have taken place.

Baroque was essentially revision. The rules of the Ancient world, re-emerged and written down during the Renaissance, were broken by the architects and artisans of the Baroque. In essence, the rules were revised to become something completely different. While “The Renaissance building exists to be admired in its splendid isolated perfection. The Baroque building can only be grasped through one’s experiencing it in its variety of effects… Baroque unity is achieved—at the expense of the clearly defined elements—through the subordinations of the individual elements to invigorate the whole. Baroque space is independent and alive—it flows and leads to dramatic culminations” –Henry A Millon, Baroque and Rococo Architecture, 1961 (Roth 2007).


The character of something is the essence of it. It tells a great deal of information in something seemingly small. The character of Baroque was the breaking of rules. The decorative arts came together instead of operating separately, art depicted the height of action and emotion, and drama was key. Light and water played key roles once again. One great example of merging art and architecture and the use of light therein is Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, in which The miraculous event is illuminated from a hidden source, a window behind the pediment of the stage, whose flood of light is embodied by the gilded rays that stream down behind the figures. The autonomy of architecture is here eliminated, becoming now an armature for sculpture and painting meant to impress upon the viewer a mystical experience. Architecture as an independent, rational structural frame is transformed into a unity or fusion of the visual arts as propaganda. Architecture has become but one constituent part in what was “a total work of art.” (Roth 2007).

These designs did not always sit well with their audience. When Versailles was built, the audience was not only the king first and foremost, but all of the people under him, so that they could see his power. However, the plan backfired and caused a revolution against the monarchy—the people were angry that such extravagance was breaking their country. Versailles defined opulence, “enlarged by Louis XIV on a scale rivaling that of the Rome of Sixtus V” (Roth 2007).

With any design it is important to take the audience into account. While the scheme of displaying power through architecture and art had worked previously, it was not done in such a lavish manner. There must be a balance found in which the audience is manipulated and pleased. The manipulation ranges from directing the flow of people through a space, or making their eye travel to certain places, to informing about power of government and religion.

late night
Those who built my apartment building did not take the audience into account. You can hear through the walls to outside, and there is tremendous noise sometimes!

Renaissance design rested heavily on thought and reason, while the focus of Baroque was emotion. In face, both are key in design. A successful design is well thought out and reasoned; yet still has emotion in it as well as evokes emotion from the audience. There exists clear datum between thought and emotion, yet in a design they should merge without the division standing out, but instead within a smooth transition back and forth between the two. This can be reached through many revisions of an initial vision—often a more emotional response, revised through rationing.

sunny day

Roth, Leland, M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PA | Deliverables

Image courtesy Google Maps



I. Context
A. Nation’s Capital
B. Historical buildings
II. Fitting the purpose
A. Proper conditions for artwork
1. Holding
2. Displaying
3. Light fastness
B. Holding a high volume of people
III. Being the purpose- the building as a piece of art
IV. Light vs. dark
A. Inside / Outside
B. Atrium/ Gallery space


I have consciously chosen to create some images with the aid of a computer, and draw others by hand in a very precise manner. After consideration, I felt that the different types of drawings best fit what was trying to be conveyed.

Aerial view (showing context) : pen drawing with shading
Plan : AutoCAD drawing
Front: contour pen drawing
Looking up on the inside: pen drawing
East Section: AutoCAD drawing
North Section: AutoCAD drawing
Detail of skylight: pen drawing
Flow through space: AutoCAD/pen drawing
Tunnel: pen drawing
Perspective: pen drawing with marker rendering

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Design Graphics

Here are all my drafting assignments this semester so far!

I have learned that Photoshop does not fix everything- these things are very hard to scan clearly, especially since they are done in pencil!

pats chair plan
pats chair sections001
pats chair axon two001
pats chair axon001
lead holder001
space elevations
space axon001

P Week

All of architecture thus far has been a process. From Stonehenge, through Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Renaissance, and on until today—when we can build towering skyscrapers that seemed impossible, if even dreamed up by those creating the first expressions of architecture. We realized that “Architecture is shelter, but it is also symbol and a form of communication” (Roth 2007), just as anything designed is not only what it is, but also represents something else as well. Today, we have chairs from plastic and can use materials not available in our own immediate environment.


It could be said that all through time there is one greater design process, of which we take part in as we design a portal, a place for a leaf, a shelter, an environment. As we design, then, we must be careful to always improve upon what has already been designed—whether to help the environment or accommodate people better. They must all have “commodity, firmness, and delight” (Roth 2007).

In this way, we become true professionals, with honed, valuable skills. Our work should be neat and clean, carefully executed. Our craft should be impeccable.

In Italy, at the rise of the Renaissance, merchants were taking over as being the high-ranking professionals. It was because of this that secular architecture began getting noticed as being fully worthy of the ornamentation of churches, which is illustrated by the Villa Capra (Villa Rotunda).

“The Villa Capra, called the Villa Rotunda because it focused not on a single entrance façade but on a cylindrical rotunda at the center” (Roth 2007) was a great example of the rise of secular architecture. Also during this time, villas of the wealthy were often stretched across the landscape, so that from the approaching visitor’s perspective, the structure would seem larger and grander.

These villas were, to some degree, on the periphery of the cities, where “Venetian nobles used the funds made in maritime commerce to buy up and reclaim low-lying, marshy lands that had been agriculturally unproductive for centuries” (Roth 2007). They served as an escape for the wealthy and a social destination for the privileged. Along the periphery of these houses would be gardens, extending the house outward, also making it seem grander. This was in the style of the opulence of Rome—tricking the visitor into thinking something was even more than it was, even if what it was actually was grand.

In Palladio’s portfolio lays many villas. In some way, he recreated the villa, building it for wealthy merchants on their farms which fed the busy cities. As students and professionals, we should strive to create impressive portfolios of work.

Roth, Leland, M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009



Details are what makes something make sense and completes it. Without details, the world would be bland and somewhat senseless. Therefore, it is details that make us good designers. The more attention we pay to detail, the more successful the design. Details should never be overlooked. As Mies van der Rohe said, “God is in the Details”—they are all important, omniscient and omnipotent. In them we find hope and salvation. The amount of detail used in the Gothic cathedrals is what makes these structures so breathtaking.

mossman fire in the windows

The amount of detail we use makes an impression about who we are as designers. Therefore, we must always be detail-oriented people. One thing we have been working on designing as a first year class are portals around the doorways to offices on the first floor of the Gatewood Studio Arts Building. These portals give an impression of what is to come. Likewise, what has come before is to make an impression on our portal designs: from our historical precedents to the artifacts we have designed throughout the semester thus far. The exterior and interior of the Gothic cathedrals give an impression of the religion- much of it works as symbols to tell the illiterate masses of God. These structures “were covered virtually from top to bottom with sculptural representation of biblical stories” becoming “a Bible for the illiterate, and what was especially important, the visual imagery was known and accessible to all—lord, merchant, servant, and serf alike” (Roth 2007).

mossman bench

The cathedrals, based on the Ancient Greek model, consisted of a porch, a court, and a hearth. These often elaborate exteriors created the porch. The narthex could be described as the court, which then led to the hearth, being the altar. For the Perception and Communication class, we have been working on drawings of buildings around campus. I have noticed in my assigned building, Mossman, that this porch-court-hearth principal also stands true. There are two entryways: creating hearths. There is a court, which is the very public waiting and gathering area. From there, offices—the hearth of the building—stretch outward and upward, to the pinnacle—the chancellor’s office, which could be described as a “super hearth”.

mossman doors

Also a part of this assignment is to make diagrams to further our and others understanding of the building. Different diagrams are efficient for showing different things: circulation, context, etc. We can use bubble, zoning, matrix, and many other kinds of diagrams to illustrate these things. The cathedrals quickly began to follow a pattern—their layout was diagrammed in a number of first applications of this building style. Roth states, “More than any previous medieval building type, the Gothic cathedral was quickly standardized in its plan and basic components” (Roth 2007).

Photo 69

The diagrams must be put together into an interesting and effective composition. A composition comes together as a sum of parts. Together, it all makes sense. Individually, things can lose their meaning. A detail with no context makes little sense to the audience. The Gothic cathedrals are full of beautiful details, but alone, they lose their meaning. Together, they create the beautiful buildings—compostitions—so well known and breathtaking. The following describes briefly the basis composition for the interior of a Gothic cathedral: Internally, the cathedral consisted of side aisles (sometimes two on each side of the nave) covered with rib vaults. The aisles opened through an arcade of tall, pointed arches to the nave. Above the arcade was a dark, narrow passage in the thickness of the nave wal, the tiforium gallery, whose height corresponded to that of the sloping wooden shed roof protecting the side aisle vaults. Avoe the triforium passage, the wall disappeared and became slender piers, opened up by broad, stained-glass clerestory windows subdivided by delicate stone tracery. The pier, a cluster of elongated colonnettes, continued up from the capital of the arcade pier, each colonnette in the bundle corresponding to one of the ribs overhead, the longitudinal, transverse, or diagonal arches in ther bit vault over the nave. (Roth 2007) Likewise, all the things we post on this blog comes together as a composition—displaying all the hard work we put into assignments and learning as much as we can.

mossman computer desk

In design, the scale ranges from macro to micro. A building or space within it and around it is a macro scale compared to a piece of furniture in it, yet compared to the greater world and universe, a building is on a very micro scale. Beauty can come from impressing the macro with the micro, as was often done in the design of Gothic cathedrals. The details, the micro things, are what make the composition so special.