Rome: Past is Present

by Leah Aron

I am thrilled to be leading the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America’s annual Rome Drawing and Painting Tour (June 11-18, 2011) for the third consecutive year. My experience the past two summers has informed the way I view classical art and architecture a great deal. From a tour of the Villa Medici gardens to a late-night stroll through Trastevere, beauty and proportion reveal themselves at every turn. In preparation for another journey to the Eternal City, I began to read Rome: Ten Literary Walking Tours by John Varriano, who taught during the 2009 and 2010 tours. The book’s introduction quotes Rose Macaulay’s Pleasure of Ruins:

“The ascendancy over men’s minds of the ruins of the stupendous past, the past of history, legend and myth, at once factual and fantastic, stretching back and back into ages that can be surmised, is half-mystical in basis. The intoxification, at once so heady and devout, is not the romantic melancholy engendered by broken towers and mouldered stones; it is the soaring of the imagination into the high empyrean where huge episodes are tangled with myths and dreams; it is the stunning impact of world history on its amazed heirs.”

Chiesa-Sant'Ignazio. Photo by Leonard Sussman

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The Theory and Practice of Architectural Ecstasy: A Visit to New York’s Park Avenue Armory

by Seth Joseph Weine
Fellow of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

Photos by ICA&CA Member Pamela Johntson

Seth Joseph Weine

How come nobody’s talking about architectural ectasy?

Oh, we’ve recently heard from some design bards about “pleasure” and “happiness”—and I recall a book with the cutely provocative title, Thermal Delight In Architecture. Once-in-a-while, one even hears a design described as “sexy,” but it is mainly used as a term of escalated praise, akin to “cool.” But “ectasy”?—no, I don’t think it comes up much in design literature.*

Indeed the trend in architectural writing has, on the whole, been in the opposite direction. In the last couple of decades, academic trendophiles have produced a plethora of ahedonic gobbledygook they’re calling “theory”—remember all that joy-crushing deconista language about “the gaze”? And how about those long whiney disquisitions with p(art)s of words br(ok)en up with b[racket]s and (parent)heses? Future readers will find these texts as inaccessible as we now find Middle-English. Well, perhaps that’s no great loss.

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Philip Trammell Shutze and His Eponymous Awards / The Southeast Chapter Takes the Stage

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

Paul Gunther

Saturday, February 12, 2011 signals the fifth annual Philip Trammel Shutze Awards presented by the Institute’s Southeast Chapter. This year it takes place with a celebration and ceremony held at Atlanta’s fabled Piedmont Driving Club where our namesake’s deft design hand i s much in 20th century classical evidence. The winners will be posted next week so do check back; A la Oscars, results are secret until the occasion itself … (With any luck, however, Facebook and Twitter will beat us to it for those who follow there.)

With the 30th anniversary of the national career-recognizing Arthur Ross Awards for Excellence in the Classical Tradition approaching auspiciously in May, it bears recalling that its inaugural architect winner in 1982 was Shutze himself – received just months before his death.

The link is therefore strong. It is appropriate that the first Chapter-coordinated awards program, as first conceived by former Southeast President and professor, Elizabeth Dowling, William Harrison, and their volunteer colleagues makes it so. (Bill served as the Ross Awards jury chair for 2011 and will assist Peter Pennoyer in making the May 2 presentation).

The New England Chapter learned valuable lessons from them with the last year’s launch of the Bulfinch Awards, which are likewise keyed to recent regional accomplishments in a variety of built categories.  A gradual national expansion of such yearly recognition holds as a goal when and if all other Chapters decide its time.

Kudos are due to New York-based architect trustee, Gary Brewer, who served as the 2011 Shutze Awards jury head along with Southern Living editor, Birmingham–based Lindsay Bierman, and the Providence (R.I.) Journal’s discerning architectural critic, David Brussat. Gary will narrate the honors as is tradition and I will give the benediction.

Meanwhile, take due advantage of all activities upcoming as we share them today.

Warm regards,
Paul Gunther

P.S.  Join me in welcoming Anne Lawson to the staff in the new post of Registrar.  You’ll be hearing much more about what she is up to in the weeks ahead.

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The art and Architecture of the William Brennan Courthouse

The Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development (HCOCHA/TD), in honor of the centennial of the murals of the Hudson County Justice William Brennan Courthouse, listed on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, will present a panel of art historians and art history scholars who will discuss the Jersey City landmark building’s magnificent architecture and decorative art.

The building, which opened to the public on September 20, 1910, was almost lost to the community when it was closed and slated for demolition in the 1960s to make way for a parking lot. In 1985, after nearly twenty years of stabilization and preservation, it was re-opened, largely due to the efforts of outraged local citizens. Panel discussions will include the power of civic activism; the unique qualities of the building’s beaux-arts architecture; and the outstanding museum quality murals, by five of the most influential American artists and illustrators of the early 20th century, which adorn the building’s interior. Read more »

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by Calder Loth
Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and a member of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America‘s Advisory Council

Calder Loth

The Gibbs surround is a particular form of rusticated doorway or window frame, the pedigree for which extends to ancient times. The term derives from the 18th-century English architect, James Gibbs (1692-1754), a leading figure in the Anglo-Palladian movement.  Gibbs did not invent the form, but popularized its use through his own designs and publications to the extent that it has henceforth been associated with him, especially in Britain where it is referred to by his name.  A standard Gibbs surround consists of a series of square or rectangular blocks either paralleling or interrupting the side architraves of an opening’s frame. Overlapping the top part of the frame are the keystone and flanking voussoirs which can break into the frieze and cornice above. A Gibbs surround is normally topped by a pediment but not necessarily so. Typical is the design that Gibbs included in his highly influential pattern book, A Book of Architecture (1728).[i] In this example, Gibbs situated the blocks against the architrave frame rather than have them overlap it. (Fig. 1)  More often, however, the blocks intersect the frame.

Fig. 1. Plate 101 (detail), A Book of Architecture

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Register Now for Spring Continuing Education Courses

Classes start next week! Register now:

Drawing the Classical Orders:  A Studio Course

Instructor:  Martin Brandwein

February 1-April 26; Tuesdays, 7:00–9:00 PM

Proportional Methods Studio

Instructor: Steve Bass

Feb 17–March 24; Thursdays, 6:00-9:00 PM

Following In The Footsteps Of Magonigle: An Atelier In India Ink Wash, Toned Ink And Full Color Architectural Rendering

Instructors: Richard Cameron, Architectural Designer and ICA&CA Vice Chairman; Anthony J. Taylor, Architect

February 9–May 7; Wednesdays, 6:00–9:00PM and Saturdays, 1:00–4:00 PM

ICA&CA Education Department is thrilled to be offering three studio courses from our core curriculum designed to fit into your busy schedule.

Our studio courses will be offered in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and one on Saturday afternoons.  For each course, students need only to attend a minimum of six sessions, though they have the option of taking more.

Whether this is your introduction to the Orders, Proportion, or Architectural Wash Rendering, or whether you simply want a refresher while obtaining AIA credits, these classes are for you.  Join the ICA&CA Education Department as we get back to basics.  Expand your portfolio, and your horizons, while learning the foundation of all good design.

Questions about our course offerings?  Email

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