CLASSICAL COMMENTS: Tower of the Winds Order

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

Watch Palladio: America’s Architectural Grandfather featuring Calder Loth.

Calder Loth

James Stuart’s and Nicholas Revett’s Antiquities of Athens vies with Andrea Palladio’s I Quattro Libri for being the most influential of architectural treatises. Their three-volume work is the fruit of the pair’s painstaking recording of Greek ruins, a project that extended from 1751 to 1755.[i] The impact of their publication can be seen in the forms and details of architectural works throughout the world and especially in America. Among the ruins receiving copious illustrations and detailed description in Antiquities of Athens is a small octagonal edifice in the Roman Agora, near the base of the Acropolis, which they identified as the Octagon Tower of Andronicus Cyrrhestes (fig.1).[ii] Probably built around 40 BC, the structure is also known as the Horologion of Andronikos because it originally housed a complex water clock.[iii] Today, the building is better known as the Tower of the Winds, a name derived from its striking bas-relief frieze sculptures personifying the eight winds (fig. 2).  These sculptures were noted by Vitruvius when he discussed winds in Book 1 of his Ten Books of Architecture, written in the mid-20s B.C.

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Deadlines for Awards and Prizes: Alma Schapiro, Shutze, and Arthur Ross

~~The 2010 Award deadlines have passed.  The deadlines for the 2011 Awards will be announced once available~~

Mark your calendar!  This Monday, November 1, is the deadline for the Alma Schapiro Prize.

Now in its third cycle, The Alma Schapiro Prize is a biannual affiliated fellowship for distinguished American students or professionals with demonstrable commitment to the classical tradition and its contemporary practice in painting and sculpture.

The centerpiece of the Alma Schapiro Prize for the selected American painter or sculptor recipient will be a three-month affiliated fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, the premier overseas center for independent study and artistic pursuit in the arts and humanities.

With a statement of interest, extensions may be granted.  Please email for more information.

Visit our Web site to learn more about the ALMA SCHAPIRO PRIZE.>>

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New England Chapter Announce Inaugural Bulfinch Awards

The New England Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICA&CA) has announced the 2010 winners of its inaugural Bulfinch Awards. The awards are named for Charles Bulfinch, America’s first native-born professional architect, and recognize contemporary excellence in the classical tradition of architecture and allied arts. They will be presented and the winners celebrated in a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, November 3, at 6 p.m.

The Massachusetts State House c. 1862, in a stereograph image.

Institute President Paul Gunther said that the selections “resonate with our determination to recognize achievement of the past as a point of innovative departure today. New England becomes the second ICA&CA chapter to offer such a regional awards program as a complement to the countrywide Arthur Ross Awards program held in New York each year in early May. In doing so they join the Southeast Chapter with its yearly Philip Trammell Shutze Awards.”

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Portfolio Evaluation for Architects and Students of Architecture

Two Evening Sessions: Tuesdays, November 9, 16; 6:00 – 9:00pm

In this two-session class, leading architects and professors will impart their own experiences and advice for creating a polished and accomplished architectural portfolio. Students will have the opportunity to have their current portfolios critiqued by these leading design professionals, providing a unique experience for constructive hands-on review.  This instruction will then be followed by an assignment geared towards each individual participant, aimed at improving their respective portfolio. The following session will be focused on the successful completion of the assignment and helpful hints for further portfolio development.

Instructors: Gary L. Brewer, Architect, Robert A. M. Stern Architects and ICA&CA Board Member; Peter Schubert, Design Director, RMJM U.S and Faculty Member, The Cooper Union School of Architecture; Joel Sanders, Architect and Associate Professor, Yale School of Architecture

Cost/Learning Unit: FREE for students with valid ID; $245 ($220 members); 6 AIA/CES LUs (Theory)

Learn more and register online>>

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More on the ICA&CA “Classical Paris” Tour from Russell Windham

By Russell Windham, Architect and ICA&CA Board Member

I am still struggling to process the sheer magnitude of architectural stimuli taken in on the recent ICA&CA “Classical Paris” trip. From the whimsical garden follies of Chateau Groussay, to the final evening in the dramatic Hôtel du Duc de Gesvres, my brain and camera were on overload.

Garden Folly at Chateau Groussay

One of the many high points of the tour was our visit to Vaux le Vicomte, a first for me. I have long read about the overall choreography and harmony of the architecture, garden, and natural landscape. From the forecourt, the architecture frames and triumphs over the landscape, but once inside the Chateau and looking from the building toward the main reflecting basin in the distance, the garden dominates. It is in this change of perspective that the architecture and garden have a respectful conversation.

View of the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte with reflecting basins in the distance.

At Chateau Groussay, we visited the beautiful Chateau and the park with all of its great Garden Follies. Having known Groussay from books and especially the Sotheby’s catalogue of the famed sale preceding its change in ownership a decade ago, I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the new interiors. Instead, I was delighted to see that the spirit of the house has been recaptured with the same layering of exuberant and eclectic furnishings as in its heyday. It was particularly insightful having Jean-Louis Remilleux, the current owner, lead us through the house and talk about his regard for the former owner and renowned aesthete Charles de Beistegui and his efforts to put together the interiors with a similar spirited and eclectic feel.

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Book Review: Comparative Architectural Details

Comparative Architectural Details: A Selection from Pencil Points 1932-1937

Edited and with an introduction by Milton Wilfred Grenfell

Published by W. W. Norton, New York 2010

REVIEWED BY Seth Joseph Weine

What’s the best book for a practicing designer? Probably not a neuron-stretching theses or prettily photographed compilations of eye-gaga. Those have their uses, but today’s busy designer needs a book that will solve today’s problems: the challenges that come up at the drawing board (or mouse pad) while a project is in the process of design and detailing. That’s why you need to order this book right away. It has those answers—lots of them! Need to do a cupola? There are thirteen ways other talented architects have worked it out. Need to detail a built-in radiator cover? There are six solutions. What about dormers, or bookcases, or gambrel gables, garden shelters, overmantels, or fences and gates? This book covers 34 of those types of items—giving designers a place to begin. For each type of problem, you’ll find multiple examples by solid and inventive architects practicing during the interwar period. Each example comes with a photo of the finished result, blissfully accompanied by clearly detailed drawings (so you can see how the result was achieved).

Now, don’t think that the purpose of this material is to allow you to do a quick crib so you can get to the bar earlier than usual. In my own experience, reviewing this collection of solutions triggers one’s own creativity. Something about clicking (it comes with a disk) through all these cleverly solved precedents just sets the brain racing. Racing good.

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