Summer has arrived, and millions around the world are retreating to cooler, calmer, and more bucolic destinations. Now, more than any other time of the year, we’re reminded that architecture and design have an inextricable connection to the surrounding natural environment; the most beautiful buildings are often complemented by carefully considered landscapes that, together, create a cohesive and coherent sense of place. With this in mind, I was especially inspired by garden and landscape designer Matthew Wilson’s recent piece The Visionaries behind UK’s Studley Royal and Italy’s Villa d’Estein the Financial Times Weekend House & Home section (my weekly bible!).
Studley Royal park (Image Source: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal / National Trust)
Wilson’s article explores the remarkable parallel histories of Studley Royal park and Villa d’Este, two water gardens that were built over 150 apart amidst financial calamity. The patrons of each garden – John Aislabie and Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, respectively – were enormously powerful and considerably tragic figures of their time. Yet each made an indelible contribution to landscape design that continues to inspire today. Indeed, both Studley Royal park and Villa d’Este are now UNESCO World Heritage sites, an indication of their vast impact worldwide.
Video featuring Studley Royal park by the National Trust in the North of England
Aerial view of Studley Royal park’s geometric water features (Image Source: Pinterest)
Water gardens at Studley Royal (Image Source: Gardenvisit.com)
The ruins of Fountains Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery originally founded in the 12th Century (Image Source: Wikipedia / Mike Peel)
Over 200 years before Aislabie began building his magnificent water gardens, Ippolito II d’Este was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1509 as the second son of the Duke of Ferrara and Lucrezia Borgia. D’Este, who emerged as one of the wealthiest cardinals of the Renaissance, hired classical scholar and artist Pirro Ligorio to envisage a villa in Tivoli to rival “anything built by the Romans.” Work began on the villa in 1560, and although d’Este burned through his fortune by 1572 before it could be completed, it is impossible to not be impressed by his “lavish vision.” Today, Villa d’Este features 364 water jets, 398 waterspouts, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins.
The Hundred Fountains, Villa d’Este
One of the most remarkable characteristics about these two gardens – one British and the other Italian – is that they were both created before the advent of the pumping mechanism, and therefore depend entirely on gravity and the engineering of existing bodies of water to create the final designs. It is also remarkable that they are both so well preserved, despite the financial constraints and turbulent transfers of ownership that plagued both locations following the deaths of Aislabie and d’Este.
Construction of Villa d’Este was never completed
Villa d’Este continues to serve as a vital source of inspiration for students, practitioners, and enthusiasts of classicism. Earlier this month participants on the ICAA’s annual Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour visited the garden, where they created sketches and watercolor drawings inspired by the site’s exceptional beauty. The tour, which is named in honor of the ICAA’s late Trustee, Mr. Christopher H. Browne, also visited nearby Villa Hadriana, which served as an inspiration for d’Este (as well as a source for statues and marble).
Watercolor sketches of Villa d’Este by Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour student Elena Belova
There is a clear and essential link between the landscape and its complex relationship to the buildings and spaces we inhabit; this indispensible connection between architecture, landscape design, and the many other disciplines that contribute to our built environment represents a key component of the ICAA’s mission. Successful design recognizes the interplay of each of these unique elements, allowing them to work together in synthesis.
Sanguine drawing of Villa d’Este by Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour student Martin Burns
As a part of its ongoing commitment to celebrating the importance of garden and landscape design in classical architecture, the ICAA has a number of upcoming programs featuring celebrated speakers who will share their knowledge on this very topic.
On September 19, world-renowned garden designer Arne Maynard will speak about the “Formality and Informality of Garden Design” in a special lecture co-hosted by Architectural Digest. And on January 20, 2018, David Gobel, Professor of Architectural History at Savannah College of Art and Design, will lead a continuing education class at the ICAA entitled “The Villa and Garden Design, the Paradox of Paradise,” exploring the villa and garden tradition from antiquity to the present.
I hope to see you at these upcoming programs. In the meantime, this summer, I encourage everyone with a passion for classicism to bring yourselves and others to places like Villa d’Este, Studley Royal, and the architecture and landscapes in your own communities that energize and inspire.
Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro (right) with a past Summer Studio in Classical Architecture participant
The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) has launched a brand-new mentorship program in association with its Summer Studio in Classical Architecture. Spearheaded by the ICAA Young Members Task Force, the mentorship initiative will connect participants of the Summer Studio program with emerging professionals within the ICAA community, and aims to provide university students and recent graduates with a deeper understanding of the professional world of classical architecture and the related fields.
Participants of the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture – a four-week, immersive program introducing students to skills, knowledge and resources essential to the practice and appreciation of classical design – will have opportunities to engage with mentors through one-on-one meetings, networking events, and during visits to professional firms. More than 20 young professionals have volunteered their time as mentors from a total of nine different firms, including Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Ferguson and Shamamian Architects, Roman and Williams, and G.P. Schafer Architect among others.
ICAA President Peter Lyden said of the program, “This latest initiative allows the ICAA to further support and engage with the next generation of classical architects and designers. By connecting Summer Studio students with our passionate members, we’re showing them that a vibrant, successful, and inspiring career in classicism is viable and achievable.”
Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro, who serves as Chair of the ICAA Young Members Task Force – a volunteer group of young and emerging architects, designers, and enthusiasts from across the country – worked closely with the ICAA Education Department to design the program. Bollat Montenegro, who is also volunteering as a mentor, said, “This new mentorship program will help guide up-and-coming practitioners as they begin to transition from students to professionals. I look forward to working with the mentees this summer, and continuing to help the ICAA make deeper connections with young professionals.”
2017 Summer Studio participant, Tatiana Amundsen, said, “So far, the mentorship program has allowed me to consider classical architecture not only from an academic perspective, but also through the lens of a practicing professional.”
After the Summer Studio concludes in mid-July, the ICAA will encourage mentors to continue dialogue with their mentees – many of whom are in the early stages of considering a career in architecture and the related fields. The mentorship initiative also provides Summer Studio participants with an opportunity to discover how ICAA programming and its broader community of members can serve as a valuable resource into the future.
The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, in collaboration with Rizzoli Bookstore, hosted renowned interior designer Frank de Biasi for the most recent installment of ‘Breakfast & Books’ on May 31st. You can watch the discussion here in full, in which de Biasi highlights the book The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah.
Follow the ICAA daily from June 4th through June 10th as we study the architecture, urbanism and landscapes of Rome through observational drawing and watercolor on the Christopher H. Browne RomeDrawing Tour. The tour is led by Ben Bolgar, Senior Director at the Prince’s Foundation – London; Richard Piccolo, acclaimed painter and educator; and Thomas Rajkovich, preeminent classical architect and urbanist. Daily blog posts are provided courtesy of tour participants.
June 9th and 10th, by Sebastian von Marschall: Perhaps the hardest part of spending a week in Rome is knowing where to start. Thankfully, the ICAA’s curriculum for the 2017 Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour provided a framework that quickly immersed us in the unparalleled architectural fabric of the Eternal City.
Under the supervision and guidance of the outstanding instructors Tom Rajkovich, Ben Bolgar, and Richard Piccolo, we were pushed to challenge ourselves and break from our predisposed approaches to drawing and analysis – all while in the shadows of some of the most spectacular architecture of antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque.
The Campidoglio in Rome
Tour participants sketch on location at the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza
After a magnificent day in Tivoli on Thursday, the tour returned to Rome for some of the most noteworthy and challenging subjects of our schedule. Friday started at the Campidoglio, one of Rome’s famous seven hills. Tom briefly introduced the historic context as well as the forces that shaped Michaelangelo’s mid-16th century design for the Piazza and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, highlighting key architectural concepts that became critical underlying elements in our subsequent drawings of that site. The complexity of the architectural composition, as well as the dynamic nature of the light, made this site particularly challenging but also rewarding to draw.
The Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza
The afternoon session focused on the courtyard of the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, a few short blocks from the Piazza Navona. Francesco Borromini’s 1640s design was reminiscent of Donato Bramante’s courtyard at the church of Santa Maria della Pace (a site of study from the previous Sunday afternoon), with an added level of complexity. The undulating plane of the west-facing church facade, as well as the highly symbolic and unique spire were a reminder of Borromini’s inclination for complex geometries and mature Baroque detailing, leading to both whimsical interpretation and rigorous execution.
Tour participant Sebastian von Marschall’s sketch of the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza
The fruition of Bramante’s genius was exposed on Saturday morning at one of the most seminal works of the Renaissance, the Tempietto, located in the courtyard of the church of San Pietro in Montorio, on the Janiculum Hill. The temple, commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (for context, the same monarchs who funded the voyage of Christopher Columbus), marks the location of St. Peter’s crucifixion.
The Tempietto, located in the courtyard of the church of San Pietro in Montorio
Architecturally rooted in the realms of both the spiritual and the temporal and influenced by Bramante’s focus on perfect geometries, the circular temple draws on historical precedent while asserting the power of Christian Rome as the successor to the great Empire of antiquity.
The interior of the Tempietto
The Italians have an expression, “Roma, non basta una vita” (For Rome, a lifetime is not enough) in which case a week is perhaps no more than a scratch on the well-worn Travertine surface. Nevertheless, the wealth of classical architecture was brought to life by the passionate instructors and cheerful participants of the week-long tour, an experience worth celebrating at dinner on Saturday evening. The whole group had a chance to reminisce about the experience and plan future adventures below the baroque facade of Sant’Ignazio Church, bathed in the gold and purple glow of the setting Roman sun.
The tour group at Tivoli
June 8th, by Carolyne Yeow: Today the group ventured out of Rome on a road trip to Tivoli, where we visited the Villa Adriana and the Villa d’Este. The incredible villas are huge in scale while also emphasising the nature, water and land surrounding them.
Tour participants sketch on location at the Villa Adriana
The Villa Adriana was our first stop, where our instructors insightfully explained the complex geometry of the buildings. Hadrian was known as a humanist, master of rhetoric, and lover of art and architecture. The Villa Adriana helped set a standard for Roman architecture and was created to represent places around the world that had been conquered by Hadrian.
The Villa Adriana
After a morning spent working on sketches and watercolors, the group stopped for a traditional Italian lunch at La Sybilla, located at the foot of the ruins of Tibur, and the cliff overlooking the River Aniene.
View of the gardens at the Villa d’Este
We then spent the afternoon at the gardens of Villa d’Este. It is understood that the architect Ligorio spent 15 years or so designing the symmetry of the garden to create synergy between nature and art. The gardens were something to behold – every view was breath taking!
Tour participants sketch on location in Tivoli
Today we were really challenged in terms of the enormity of detail, complex geometry, and scale that we had to capture in our sketches. The focus on perspective is becoming increasingly critical in our work. As we learn and continue to develop our skills, we also realise that with intricate subjects, improvements in learning are not linear. The beauty of today’s complex and detailed villas highlights the importance of practice, practice, practice, and to have fun on the journey.
Tour participants sketch on location at Circus Maximus, overlooking Palatine Hill
June 7th, by Sasha Pokrovskaya: To understand something, one has to draw it. To see its depth – watercolor. That was how we discovered the Roman Forum.
The constant stream of tourists enlivened the forum views, seeming appropriate for what was once the center of commercial activity in Rome.
Tour participants sketch on location in the Roman Forum
Although the magnitude and complexity of the site seemed overwhelming at first, all elements felt comfortable as they related to the human scale. It was inspiring to see ancient capital fragments lying in the former cow pasture, compare the size of a dentil to one’s hand, and experience the pink morning light and copper oxidation on ancient Corinthian capitals.
Tour participants get a close look at dentils in the Roman Forum
Several participants also remarked how studying the forum felt like a continuation of the legacy of centuries of students learning from the ancient masters.
Tour participant Sasha Pokrovskaya’s watercolor sketch of the Palatine Palace
The afternoon’s activity involved a long study of the Palatine Palace. Formidable in its grandeur, the palace presented a perfect opportunity to play with depth of shadows. As the hot sun set, the terracotta bricks were washed in a golden hue and we departed, ready to spend tomorrow in Hadrian’s Villa.
Tour participants sketch on location at Circus Maximus
Tour participants sketch on location at Trajan’s Market
June 6th, by Christine Gros: The morning began with an impromptu stop at the Trevi Fountain, where our instructor Ben Bolgar pointed out the Mannerist, distorted perspective that was designed into the rustication around the ground floor windows of surrounding buildings.
View from Trajan’s Market
We spent the morning in Trajan’s Market and Museum on the perimeter of the forum, where we developed our sketches and watercolors.
Tour participants sketch on location at Trajan’s Market
After the midday heat of the market, a lunch in a charming nearby café was very welcome. The place was very busy, but still gave us an opportunity to try out our Italian with the friendly wait staff.
Tour participants sketch on location at the Arch of Constantine
After lunch we went to the Arch of Constantine next to the Colosseum, where we made our first foray into watercolor after a brief demonstration by instructor Richard Piccolo. We spent some time working on our wash technique before moving onto several studies of the Arch. All in all, it was an ambitious afternoon.
Tour participants sketch at Piazza Sant’Ignazio in Rome
June 5th, by Martin Burns: On yet another gorgeous Roman summer morning, the tour group departed for Piazza Sant’Ignazio. Pausing at the alleyway entrance, our instructor Thomas Rajkovich highlighted the key features of the square. Playful perspectival forms and deliberate urbanism united the curving configurations of Filippo Raguzzini’s Rococo buildings and the similarly curving apsidal side altars of the Church of Sant’Ignazio. The architecture and place felt appropriately eclectic for its cosmopolitan and complex Jesuit history.
Piazza Sant’Ignazio in Rome
We soon set up shop on our respective stools, using various media to sketch different views of the Church facade and whimsical Raguzzini buildings.
Tour participant Martin Burns’ sketch from Piazza Sant’Ignazio
Sketches completed, we wound our way up to the charmingly composed and institutionally inspiring American Academy in Rome. We were fortunate to receive a guided tour of the building, grounds, and rare book room inside the elegant Academy library. Our group shared lunch alongside fellows and residents of the Academy in the gently shaded and aromatic courtyard arcade.
American Academy in Rome
Stomachs and spirits full, we sketched and watercolored the grounds for the afternoon, our instructors insightfully improving the process. We caught a panoramic glimpse of the Eternal City from Fontana dell’Acqua Paolaand concluded the day with a quick stop at the Palazzo Mattei di Giove.
American Academy in RomeAmerican Academy in Rome
The day was full of architectural variety, inspiration, and fellowship, and served as an excellent opportunity to cultivate our skills for the rich days ahead.
Tour participant Martin Burns’ pantheon sketch
Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour participants sketching at Piazza Navona
June 4th, by Elena Belova: The first day of the Christopher H. Browne RomeDrawing Tour was an incredible experience. We spent the morning at Piazza Navona, attempting to capture one of Bernini’s sculptures. The focus of the morning was figure drawing, which was challenging, but definitely inspiring.
Endless groups of tourists kept peeking at our sketches, but despite this distraction, being immersed in the space was a great tool for analysis. The instructors were encouraging and devoted a lot of attention to every participant on the tour.
Elena Belova’s watercolor sketch from Piazza Navona
In the afternoon we visited the courtyard at the church of the Santa Maria della Pace, designed by Bramante. The perfect geometries filling the space created a sense of tranquility and serenity. Here we were encouraged to practice one-point perspective drawing to describe the proportions of the courtyard.
The church of Santa Maria della Pace
Afterwards, we shared our thoughts about the day, set up goals for the week, and received some feedback from the instructors.
Elena Belova’s watercolor sketch from the church of Santa Maria della Pace
151 East 78th St, designed by Peter Pennoyer Architects (Photo Credit: Eric Piasecki)
Earlier this month, I was honored to deliver introductory remarks to over 400 guests at the ICAA’s 36th annual Arthur Ross Awards ceremony. Quoting one of my personal heroes, Sir Winston Churchill, I told those in attendance that “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” True to form, Winston’s quote is no less inspirational or accurate over 70 years later. His words are also particularly pertinent to the 2017 Arthur Ross Award winners, each of whom has left an enduring mark on the practice, education, and appreciation of classical architecture and design.
Drumlin Hall, designed by Peter Pennoyer Architects (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wallen)
Look no further than Peter Pennoyer Architects, winner in the Architecture category, which for nearly three decades has played a fundamental role in making classical design a relevant aspect of contemporary practice. Before accepting the award from ICAA Board Chairman Russell Windham and ICAA Board Member Andrew Skurman, Peter Pennoyer told attendees: “In our own work… we face headwinds every day, but being recognized and winning this award makes us feel in some small way that our work and our efforts go towards the battle towards beauty, which I think epitomizes classicism.”
Interior, designed by John Saladino
Like Peter Pennoyer, John Saladino has helped further establish the notion that classical design is as timeless and fundamental to beauty as ever. Saladino, who is the second ever Arthur Ross Award winner in the Interior Design category, is renowned for his philosophy of mixing “old with new.” His work – which also includes architectural and furniture design – is eclectic, historically cognizant, and appeals to a broad range of clients around the world.
Fine Arts winner Carl Laubin, who trained as an architect, has become one of the world’s most celebrated architectural painters. His capriccio paintings depict classical works in fantasy settings, including designs by Palladio, Wren, Vanbrugh, Ledoux, and many others. Before accepting his award, Laubin told the audience, “There’s no better way to look closely at architecture than by drawing it. Becoming familiar in this way with an architect’s work for a capriccio, I feel almost as though I’m working for them. I am briefly in their office.”
Castle Howard Capriccio, Carl Laubin, 122cm x 183cm, oil on canvas, 1996
Like the classical subjects his paintings depict, Laubin’s work will remain a source of insight and imagination for generations of practitioners, students, and enthusiasts to come.
Klenzeana, Carl Laubin, 140cm x 240cm, oil on canvas, 2016
Among the 2017 Arthur Ross Award winners, Thomas Gordon Smith was also recognized for his outstanding dedication to Education. Smith – who is a celebrated practitioner, author, and Rome Prize winner – served as Chairman of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture from 1989-1998. During his tenure, he helped establish classicism as the foundation of the school’s curriculum and elevate the school to one of the world’s most preeminent architecture programs. Smith has worked at the forefront of training the next generation of classical practitioners, so many of whom are already emerging as global leaders of architecture and design.
Thomas Gordon Smith with students (Photo Credit: Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)
Board of Directors Award Winner, Norman Davenport Askins’s impact on the next generation has also been profound. Askins, who established his architecture practice 40 years ago in Atlanta, GA, has served as a mentor to so many young practitioners. Speaking to the audience, he recounted his own unlikely path to classicism and the mentorship he received from the legendary Atlanta architect, Philip Trammell Shutze, the first ever Arthur Ross Award winner and the namesake for the ICAA Southeast Chapter’s annual regional awards program.
A Federal Farmhouse in Atlanta, GA designed by Norman Davenport Askins (Photo Credit: Susan Sully)
So far an astounding 18 former employees of Askins’s have gone on to start their own successful design studios. Askins said, before accepting his award, “I just love having young blood in my office and it’s so much fun trying to help them become classical architects.”
Classical Entry at a Macon, GA residence, designed by Norman Davenport Askins (Photo Credit: Brian Gassel)
Fundamental to the education and mentorship that practitioners, scholars, and enthusiasts receive are the books and resources that aid their training, which is why Kevin Lippert and the Princeton Architectural Press received an Arthur Ross Award in the Publishing category. Founded by Lippert 35 years ago, the Press has published close to 1,000 works on every subject from classicism to landscape design, history, urbanism, as well as reprints of classics such as Letarouilly’s Edifices de Rome Moderne (which was co-published recently by the ICAA).
Kevin Lippert, who along with the Princeton Architectural Press won a 2017 ICAA Arthur Ross Award in the Publishing category (Photo Credit: Jared Siskin/PMC)
The 2017 Awards were also occasion to recognize those whose leadership, dedication, and vision has made a lasting impact on the classical tradition. Stephen Byrns received an Arthur Ross Award in the Stewardship category in recognition of his revitalization efforts at the historic Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, NY. Byrns founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 and has since helped to restore one of America’s most important gardens, which is open to the public.
I was especially inspired by John H. Bryan, who was awarded a 2017 Arthur Ross Award in the Patronage category. ICAA Board Member Richard H. Driehaus, delivered a moving introduction for Mr. Bryan, saying: “John is a consummate citizen and a prodigious patron of the arts … It didn’t take long for John to emerge as a civic and cultural leader, as well as a proponent of corporate responsibility.”
ICAA Board Member Andrew Skurman, 2017 Arthur Ross Award Winner (Patronage) John H. Bryan, and ICAA Board Member Richard H. Driehaus (Photo Credit: Jared Siskin/PMC)
Bryan, who is the retired CEO of Sara Lee Corporation, also served as the past Chairman of the Board of the Art Institute of Chicago and Chairman of Chicago’s Millennium Park. He lives with his wife in a landmarked and conserved 1926 Colonial Revival home by David Adler, which is located on Crab Tree Farm, a preserved and repurposed early 20th century dairy farm by Solon S. Beman. Bryan, who led efforts to preserve and restore Daniel Burnham’s Orchestra Hall and the Lyric Opera House in Chicago, is also working with Illinois’ First Lady, Diana Rauner, on the preservation and restoration of the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield.
Emily Bedard, Award for Emerging Excellence in the Classical Tradition winner, accepts her award from Simon Sadinsky, Head of Education for PFBC, at a separate ceremony on April 30th
In addition to celebrating the eight accomplished Arthur Ross Award Winners, I was honored to announce before the audience the success of Emily Bedard, an exceptionally talented young sculptor who, at a separate ceremony on April 30th, was bestowed the first ever Award for Emerging Excellence in the Classical Tradition. The Award is an exciting collaboration between the ICAA, the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community (PFBC), and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU). Bedard currently works as the Director of Sculpture at Foster Reeve & Associates Inc., which was founded by recently appointed ICAA Board Member Foster Reeve.
The 36th Annual Arthur Ross Awards Ceremony was a remarkable success. The energy and enthusiasm were summarized perfectly by ICAA Board Chairman Russell Windham’s closing sentiments: “Let us focus the celebratory optimism we feel tonight by emulating our honorees, by applauding their generosity, and sharing knowledge by mentoring the next generation.”
The 2017 Arthur Ross Awards ceremony has been filmed and published online. Watch the full presentation below.
The ICAA recently hosted a tour, “Green-Wood’s Victorian Artists, Artisans, and Architects,” at the historic and architecturally significant Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. Led by Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman, participants were given a behind-the-scenes look at Green-Wood’s art collection and archives, followed by a tour of the grounds and an exclusive look inside a classically designed mausoleum.