ANNOUNCING THE 2012 STANFORD WHITE AWARD WINNERS

Paul Gunther

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

As you have followed in recent weeks, three of the Institute’s regional chapters have accorded their annual design and craftsmanship awards: Bulfinch in New England, Addison Mizner in Florida (its first annual), and John Staub in Texas. Congratulations to the winners and accorders alike. The deadline for submissions for the Southeast’s Shutze Awards is November 16, 2012. (The deadline for the Arthur Ross Awards, given for a career of distinction in the classical tradition, falls close behind on Monday, December 17, 2012.)

With great enthusiasm, I can today announce the 2012 winners of a new ICAA initiative – the Stanford White Awards for Excellence in Classical and Traditional Design, for projects in New York, New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.

The awardees by category are:

Residential Architecture – New Construction
Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, LLP
A New Residence and Outbuildings

Peter Pennoyer Architects
Drumlin Hall

Robert A. M. Stern Architects, LLP
Residence in Westport, CT

Residential Architecture – Renovation and Additions
Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, LLP
Alterations and Additions to Pepperidge Farm

Wright Architects, PLLC and Richard Cameron, Design Consultant
Richard Morris Hunt Carriage House

Residential Architecture – Townhouses and Apartments
John B. Murray Architect, LLC
Park Avenue Apartment

David Scott Parker Architects
Eastside Aesthetic Brownstone

Residential Architecture – Multi-Unit Buildings
Zivkovic Connolly Architects, P.C. and John Simpson & Partners Ltd.
Carnegie Hill Apartment Building

Robert A. M. Stern Architects, LLP
Fifteen Central Park West

Commercial, Civic and Institutional Architecture
George Ranalli, Architect
Saratoga Community Center

Landscape Design
Edmund D. Hollander Landscape Architects
Forest Retreat

Historic Preservation
Franck & Lohsen Architects
Old Westbury Estate Garden Pergola Restoration

Craftsmanship and Artisanship
Hyde Park Mouldings, Inc.
Louis XV Mirror Surround

John Canning & Co., Ltd.
The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist Church

Les Métalliers Champenois Corp.
151 East 79th Street

Patronage Award
Lloyd Zuckerberg

Winners will be recognized during an awards reception at Stanford White’s landmark Tennis and Racquet Club in New York City on December 7, 2012. The reception will be narrated with inimitable insight by Calder Loth of Richmond, Virginia, who served as a juror along with Thomas Beeby of Chicago, and Russell Windham of Houston, Texas.

Co-founding White Awards Committee Chair, Michael Mesko said, “Sincere thanks go to the jurors for carefully considering each and every submission over two long, rewarding days of discussion and deliberation. We are grateful for the participation of all who submitted projects this inaugural year and for the support and enthusiasm for this new initiative, especially our generous underwriters. It is an auspicious start to a new tradition.”

There is also a great deal going on throughout our network. The Chapter presidents, staff, and other stewards gather each October at the New York headquarters to share experience, receive training, and elect their official representative to the Board of Directors. As Andrew Cogar is now completing his third successive term limit, I can report that by unanimous presidential ballot, architect Tim Barber of Los Angeles was elected as the new representative with his service to begin December 11, 2012 at the Hurricane Sandy–delayed annual meeting of the board. Tim is past president and pioneering trustee of the Southern California Chapter and is welcomed eagerly by all.

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Classical Comments: Monumental Church

Calder Loth

Calder Loth


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

Monumental Church

Figure 1. Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia (Loth)

For this month’s Classical Comments essay, I am departing from the usual pattern of discussing a specific architectural feature or type and am devoting the space to a single building. I have selected Richmond’s Monumental Church not to promote an important historic landmark, but to explore the circumstances that can affect a building’s form and character. Monumental Church is also an excellent example for illustrating the use of symbolism to make a work of architecture meaningful. Too often we fail to appreciate the existence of the amazing repertoire of traditional symbols that we can draw from to lend expression and instruction to a design.

Monumental Church owes its existence to a tragedy. On the evening of December 26, 1811, many members of Richmond’s society were attending a performance in a theater originally on the site. A fire broke out in the second act, destroying the theater and killing seventy-two of the audience, including the Governor. Shock at the loss of life moved Richmond citizens to plan a suitable memorial. Following two days of mourning, the citizens of Richmond and the state resolved to erect a church on the theater site as a permanent functioning monument to the calamity. The competition for the design was won by the thirty-one-year-old Robert Mills, who was then employed in the Philadelphia office of Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

Monumental Church engraving

Figure 2. Monumental Church, William Goodacre engraving, 1812 (Virginia Historical Society)

Prior to working for Latrobe, Mills’ architectural proficiency had been shaped by two mentors: James Hoban and Thomas Jefferson. Mills became an apprentice to Hoban while Hoban was overseeing the construction of the White House. More significantly, Mills served as a draftsman for Jefferson, producing ink-and-watercolor drawings of Monticello and a rotunda house for him around 1803. During that time, Mills had access to Jefferson’s extensive architectural library. Unfortunately, Mills’ drawings for Monumental Church do not survive, but we have a record of the ambitious original concept in an 1812 engraving by William Goodacre. (Figure 2) The Goodacre image shows a domed auditorium church fronted by a porch-like portico surmounted by a sculpted figure of mourning. An elaborate, multi-tier steeple rises from the rear of the church. The steeple and the portico sculpture were eliminated from the final design.

As built, the church, nevertheless, can only be described as Avant-guard—a structure unlike anything ever before seen in Virginia, much less the rest of the country. In many ways, it is a synthesis of ideas learned from both Jefferson and Latrobe. From Jefferson, Mills gained an appreciation for domes and octagons, forms that intrigued Jefferson and informed many of his designs.  Monumental Church’s saucer dome employs the de L’Orme construction method, which consists of laminated wooden ribs, a system that Jefferson used on both Monticello and the Rotunda at University of Virginia.[i] From Latrobe, Mills was introduced to the use of the newly fashionable Greek orders and details, as well as to non-canonical interpretations of classical moldings, primarily thin Grecian-type moldings in the inventive style of Sir John Soane.

Figure 3. Monumental Church portico (Loth)

Figure 3. Monumental Church portico (Loth)

Completed in 1814, the building has two distinct sections: the memorial and the church. The memorial is the front portico, expressed as a square shrine-like porch or reliquary sheltering the marble monument to those lost in the fire. The building’s main portion, the domed octagon, is the church, with side entrances framed by diastyle porticos.[ii] Instead of the sculpture shown in the Goodacre engraving, Mills applied a simple pediment defined by thin moldings on the raking angles and acroteria or “ears” at the ends. A long shallow panel is the only decoration in the tympanum. (Figure 3) With its ears, the pediment (and also the window lintels), echoes the form of the lids of Roman and Greek cinerary boxes, or containers for cremated remains. This form is more explicitly used on the interior as we shall see.

Figure 4. Doric of the Temple of Apollo at Delos, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. III: Chapter X, Plate 1

Figure 4. Doric of the Temple of Apollo at Delos, The Antiquities of Athens, Vol. III: Chapter X, Plate 1

Portico columns

Figure 5. Portico columns, Monumental Church (Loth)

The order used for the columns of the front and side porticos is based on the Doric of the Temple of Apollo on the Island of Delos as shown in Volume III of Stuart and Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens (1795).[iii] This order’s distinguishing feature is the column’s smooth shaft, with fluting employed in short sections at top and bottom. Stuart and Revett conjectured that the main part of the shaft was left plain because it was covered with tapestry during ceremonies. (Figures 4 & 5) Most authorities now believe that the columns were simply unfinished, and that full fluting of the shaft was intended but never accomplished. Nevertheless, the distinctive appearance of the columns has inspired countless imitations on Greek Revival buildings.[iv] We might speculate that the unfinished character of the columns on Monumental Church may have been an intended reference to the unfinished lives of those who perished in the fire.

Figure 6. Portico frieze detail, Monumental Church (Loth)

Figure 6. Portico frieze detail, Monumental Church (Loth)

The church’s theme of mourning is continued in the portico frieze through the series of bas-reliefs of lachrymatory urns. (Figure 6) These are representations of the small glass vessels usually found in ancient Greek and Roman tombs, vessels into which mourners dropped their tears. The term derives from licrima, the Latin word for tear. Lachrymatory urns are normally in the shape of a small flask with a narrow neck and wide mouth for catching the tears.

Figure 7. Monumental Church monument (Loth)

Figure 7. Monumental Church monument (Loth)

Sheltered by the portico is the marble monument inscribed with the names of the seventy-two Richmonders who perished in the fire. With its sharply sloping sides and deep cove cornice, the monument is one of the nation’s earliest structures to exhibit an Egyptian influence. (Figure 7)  The Egyptian reference is heightened by the bas-relief of the winged sun disk in the cove cornice. In Egyptian mythology, the winged sun disk is a symbol of Ra, the sun god, believed by the Egyptians to be the Sun of Righteousness having healing in his wings, a title later adapted and modified by the Christians. [v]

Urn

Figure 8. Monument urn (Loth)

Symbolism abounds on the urn topping the monument. (Figure 8) The urn is in the form of an ancient cinerary urn, also a receptacle for human ashes. The flame issuing from the lid denotes the renewal of life. The downturned flaming torches on either side are ancient symbols of death, denoting the snuffing out of the flame of life. On the face of the urn we see a winged hourglass, a reminder that life is of limited time and speeds by quickly. It is encircled by a wreath of cypress branches, also a symbol of mourning. The theme of grief is reinforced by the two sculpted draped heads with their downcast eyes. The original marble monument and urn suffered extensive deterioration over the years resulting in serious loss of aesthetic and structural integrity. With the use of laser scans, an exact replica was crafted by the firm of S. McConnell & Sons of Lilkeel, Ireland and installed in place of the original in 2004.

church interior

Figure 9. Monumental Church interior, view to apse (Loth)

Entering the church through the front portico, we are struck by the horseshoe-shaped galleries enveloping the space and focusing on the apse. (Figure 9) The apse is an acoustical as well as architectural feature meant to project the sound from the pulpit. The arrangement of the room is defined as an auditory or auditorium-form church, which is a pulpit-centered unified space. This form was favored by 19th-century Protestant denominations since the high point of the service was the sermon. Hence, it was important for the congregation to see and hear the preacher clearly. Monumental’s original wineglass-shaped pulpit that towered above the reading desk was removed in a late 19th-century alteration.

church interior

Figure 10. Monumental Church interior, view to entrance (Loth)

Looking from the apse towards the entrance, we see an intriguing optical illusion, created by placing the saucer dome on an octagonal base. The thin moldings of the dome’s base glide over the octagon’s reentrant angles forming shadow pendentives. In addition, the effect of the sweeping curved shadows makes the flat walls of the octagon appear as convex curves. (Figure 10) The interior receives additional light from the ring of shallow windows in the dome’s lantern.

column

Figure 11. Monumental Church, apse column capital (Loth)

More symbols of death and mourning are displayed in the capitals of the two Ionic columns flanking the apse. (Figure 11)  Instead of the normal channels between the volutes, Mills placed carved drapery swags, a motif recalling the drapery swags used to ornament catafalques and hearses. As noted above, the downturned torches, seen in the capital’s neck are ancient symbols of death.  The stars, on the other hand, are symbols of heaven and eternity, reminding us of the Christian belief of the promise of eternal life after death.  The leaves and buds in the balusters (sides of the volutes) are stylized versions of the Mediterranean laurel, an ancient symbol of victory and sometime symbol of eternity. Topping the capital is a modified cinerary box lid with anthemions ornamenting the triangle

gallery detail

Figure 12. Monumental Church, gallery detail (Loth)

Figure 13. Choragic Monument of Lysicrates cresting, Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1: Chapter IV. Plate VI (1762) [detail]

Figure 13. Choragic Monument of Lysicrates cresting, Antiquities of Athens, Vol. 1: Chapter IV. Plate VI (1762) [detail]

Mills’ creativity is particularly evident in the gallery columns as well as in the entablature blocks and railing pedestals above each column. (Figure 12) The columns are thin versions of the Delos Doric seen on the exterior, with short sections of fluting at the bottoms and tops of the shafts. The capitals are a Mills invention, consisting of a series of bands below a flattened echinus and an abacus in the form of a cinerary box lid.  The entablature block above the capital is a unique composition. A patera, representing the shallow dishes used in the ancient ceremonies of sacrifice, ornaments the frieze. Any symbolism inherent in the curved motif in the architrave is undetermined. Individual too are the three bold dentils and the complex series of compressed moldings forming the cornice. The shallow recessed Gothic panel in the pedestal may be a reference to Christianity. However, the anthemion motif in the ornament atop the pedestal is taken from the cresting of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates as illustrated in The Antiquities of Athens. (Figure 13)

door frame

Figure 14. Monumental Church, west doorframe detail (Loth)

stair vestibule

Figure 15. Monumental Church, west stair vestibule (Loth)

Similar creativity and imagination is exhibited in the doorframes leading to the side vestibules and the gallery stairs. (Figure 14)  Here the classical vocabulary has been abstracted to the degree that it resembles Art Deco ornament of the mid-20th century. With their sinewy lines the double stairs in each vestibule are masterpieces of design and construction. Each flight winds up the curved walls of the vestibule to a landing at the top. (Figure 15)

crypt vault

Figure 16. Monumental Church, crypt vault (Loth)

We must venture in the crypt to see the final piece of Monumental Church’s poignant history. Towards the crypt’s southern end, but not quite beneath the portico, is a large brick vault containing the ashes of those who perished in the fire, whose remains could not be identified. (Figure 16) X-ray examination of the vault indicated that the ashes are interred in two large wooden boxes.

Monumental Church was originally intended to be a non-denominational shrine available for community use. Practicality, however, dictated that it be an Episcopal parish church instead, in which capacity it served until 1965. The church is now owned by the Historic Richmond Foundation and has been undergoing long-term restoration under the foundation’s direction.[vi] The architectural lesson of Monumental Church is that its design is an effective (and indeed early) demonstration of the Miesian dictum that form follows function. In this case, however, its architect utilized traditional forms—an  octagon, a dome, and  porticoes, to create a distinctive composition for accommodating a particular programmatic use and a special symbolic function. He gave expression to the composition by employing various ancient symbols to both convey and memorialize its tragic history. Finally, using a fertile imagination, he created unique compositions of details that provoke lasting reflection.


[i]  Detailed illustrations of the rib construction were published in Philibert de l’Orme’s Nouvelles Inventions pour dien bastir et a petiz frais (1561).
[ii]
The portico is executed in Aquia Creek sandstone. The main body of the church is brick covered with stucco. The whole structure was originally covered with limewash for a uniform appearance. The portico stone was cleaned of later coatings in the mid-20th century, exposing the stone. The current limewash coating is a recent treatment and is part of the ongoing restoration.
[iii]
Stuart and Revett made their two engravings of this order from two columns and other fragments found among ruins of what was then an uninhabited Island. They speculated that the columns belonged to a temple dedicated to Apollo. Subsequent authorities have maintained that identity.  
[iv]
It is uncertain whether Mills’ model for the order was Stuart and Revett’s depiction or a similar illustration published in Julien-David Le Roy’s Les ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grece (1758). Le Roy’s work was a primary source for Mills’ mentor Benjamin Henry Latrobe, and the work was also owned by Mills’s other mentor Thomas Jefferson. Mills could have had access to the book from either Latrobe or Jefferson. Jefferson owned volume 1 of Antiquities of Athens but not volume III.
[v]
Shira.net
[vi]
Like nearly all churches, Monumental Church evolved in appearance through alterations and additions over the years. In the late 19th-century, the original apse arrangement was changed to accommodate the more ceremonial Episcopal liturgy. Golden oak choir stalls, priest’s chairs and desks, and altar were installed. Stained-glass windows replaced the original clear glass panes. A Sunday school wing was added to east side. Following the church’s deconsecrated, it was determined that Mills’ original scheme was more important than the later changes, and the long-term restoration of its original design was begun.

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ICAA Adds Third Design Classroom

Paul Gunther

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

To accommodate the growth of design education programming offered at the national headquarters, ranging from the full-time Beaux-Arts Atelier to a diverse calendar of AIA-certified continuing education and intensive sessions, we have just added a new dedicated classroom. (Take note! Reservations are now available for the dense, rich Winterim Professional Intensive from January 3–12, 2013; act soon to guarantee a place in this renowned and rigorous annual offering.) Best described as “basic”, our new classroom is therefore the perfect studio setting for the versatility that characterizes a dynamic curriculum. The added facility also means that we can sustain momentum of our national curriculum initiative launched at a July conference in the spirit of dissemination of the core content that we alone safeguard and impart. Plan to pay a visit or, better still, to enroll.

Our October e-newsletter is a guide to all programs unfolding nationwide. I can report that a sixteenth chapter is now taking shape—as soon as it’s official, you and those like you who make our work possible will be the first to know!

Finally, with the holiday season bearing down, I remind one and all of our online Classicist Bookshop featuring our own Classical America Series titles (a new reprinted title just hit the market: Letarouilly on Renaissance Rome by our late co-founder John Barrington Bailey which includes a new introduction and plates contributed by Notre Dame Professor, David Mayernik) as well as related volumes old and new, essential for the contemporary classicist. By entering Amazon via this carefully hewn bibliographic portal, a percentage of your purchases translate into a charitable contribution.  In fact, all purchases made in this way help us pay our bills. Bear it in mind as gift-giving plans come into sharper focus.

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CLASSICAL COMMENTS: THE TEMPIETTO, GRANDFATHER OF DOMES

Calder Loth

Calder Loth

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

Figure 1. The Tempietto, S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (Loth)

Figure 1. The Tempietto, S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (Loth)

One of the most influential of all Italian Renaissance buildings is perhaps the most diminutive and discreetly located. On Rome’s Janiculum Hill, in the courtyard of the monastery of S. Pietro in Montorio, is a tiny domed structure, popularly known as the Tempietto.[i] Dating from ca. 1502, it was commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to mark the traditional site of St. Peter’s crucifixion. Its architect, Donato Bramante (1444-1514), provided what in essence is an architectural reliquary. His novel design consists of a dome supported on a two-tier drum, the bottom portion of which is encircled by a Doric peristyle topped by a balustrade.[ii] This composition, which may have been inspired by the ancient tholos form,[iii] has served as the prototype for countless monumental domes throughout the Western World. Limited space enables me to provide only a sampling of the famous domes that owe their form to Bramante’s creativity.

Figure 2. Tempietto, Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, (MIT Press, 2002) Book IV, p. 66

Figure 2. Tempietto, Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, (MIT Press, 2002) Book IV, p. 66

The Tempietto is also noteworthy as one of the few buildings of the Renaissance to achieve published approbation by contemporary architects. Sabastiano Serlio (1475-1554) considered the Tempietto important enough to include a plan, elevation, and section in his famous treatise L’Architettura, published in installments beginning in 1537. However, it was Andrea Palladio who recognized the true ingenuity of the design. In Book IV of Quattro Libri (1570), the section where Palladio presented his restoration drawings of ancient temples, we find a plan and elevation of the Tempietto. (Figure 2) Palladio justified this insertion by stating: “I thought it reasonable that his [Bramante’s] work should be placed amongst those of the ancients; accordingly I have included the following temple design by him on the Janiculan [sic] Hill.”[iv]  Palladio’s conviction that the Tempietto should rank with the monuments of the Romans was high praise indeed. The Tempietto was the only contemporary work, other than his own, that Palladio included in Quattro Libri. Moreover, it was Serlio’s and to a greater extent Palladio’s  published images  that gave the design broad exposure and eventually made it the inspiration for many great domes well into the 20th century.

Figure 3. St. Louis des Invalides, Paris (Loth)

Figure 3. St. Louis des Invalides, Paris (Loth)

Michelangelo may have drawn ideas from the Tempietto for his great dome on St. Peter’s Basilica, but St. Peter’s drum has only one main tier, the upper tier being treated more as a parapet than an additional level. In addition, instead of a freestanding peristyle, St. Peter’s has attached projecting pairs of columns framing each window and serving as buttresses. Finally, the dome is absent the requisite balustrade. Jules Hardouin-Mansart likewise employed projecting pairs of columns on the lower tier of his splendidly Baroque dome for St. Louis des Invalides of 1675-1706. (Figure 3) However, he kept with the Tempietto scheme by having a full upper tier punctuated with windows, and cleverly worked in a balustrade above the columns. Recognizing the church’s military associations, Mansart enriched the panels between the dome’s ribs with resplendent gilded trophy clusters, a feature that was to inspire Cass Gilbert in the 1920s, as we shall see.

Figure 4. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (Loth)

Figure 4. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (Loth)

The grandest of all Tempietto-type domes is unquestionably Sir Christopher Wren’s dome on St. Paul’s Cathedral. (Figure 4) The evolution of its design is a complicated story. Wren actually provided designs for a dome over the crossing of the pre-fire Gothic cathedral, an addition that would make an already confusing building more confusing. Following the complete (if not fortuitous) destruction of St. Paul’s in the Great Fire of 1666, Wren offered a design for an innovative Greek cross scheme crowned by a huge dome encircled by windows framed with pilasters. The Greek cross design proved too avant-garde for the church commissioners and was rejected, whereupon Wren produced what can only be described as a joke design—a Gothic cathedral tricked out in classical detailing with a strange dome topped by a pagoda-like spire. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The “Warrant Design” was dismissed, and the masterpiece we enjoy today was constructed. Its great Tempietto-type dome, a foremost symbol of the British nation, was competed in 1711. Wren gave a solidity and serenity to its Corinthian peristyle by placing in every fourth bay a solid pier decorated with a niche. The upper tier of the drum is somewhat compressed but is penetrated by small windows lighting the dome’s inner shell.

Figure 5. Radcliffe Library, Oxford University (Loth)

Figure 5. Radcliffe Library, Oxford University (Loth)

With his design for the Radcilffe Library at Oxford University, built 1737-47, James Gibbs produced one of few Tempietto adaptations independent of a larger structure. (Figure 5) Nicholas Hawksmore originally proposed a circular building for the library, but his death in 1736 enabled Gibbs to take on the project. Gibbs maintained the rotunda scheme, consisting of a domed two-tier composition set on a rusticated podium. Instead of a free-standing colonnade, Gibbs provided an implied one, defining its bays with pairs of engaged Corinthian columns. The use of paired columns was probably inspired by St. Peter’s dome, which Gibbs proclaimed occupied “first place. . . amongst the Modern Buildings in Rome.”[v] Nevertheless, if we aligned the walls of the lower tier with those of the upper, we would have a building with a definite resemblance to the Tempietto. Gibbs trained in Rome under architect Carlo Fontana from 1704 to 1709, and undoubtedly would have seen Bramante’s masterpiece.

Figure 6. Pantheon, Paris (Loth)

Figure 6. Pantheon, Paris (Loth)

Architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot provided Paris with a more faithful adaptation of the Tempietto with his dome for the church of Ste Genevieve, built 1755-90, complete with balustraded peristyle and two-tier drum. (Figure 6) Although originally intended as a church, the building was reordered in 1791 to become a burial place for French worthies. Nevertheless, it subsequently was twice reconverted to church use, but officially became the Pantheon in 1885 following Victor Hugo’s internment in the crypt. In The Classical Language of Architecture, John Summerson compared the Pantheon’s dome with St. Paul’s: “To my mind the narrower intercolumniations of the Pantheon and the elimination of the solid piers in every fourth bay, results in a loss of gravity: the Pantheon dome spins rather too airily over the rectangles of the cross-shaped structure below. Soufflot, no doubt, thought he was purifying Wren’s design…”[vi] Be that as it may, Soufflot’s design has likely influenced more domes than Wren’s.

Figure 7. Franzosischer Dom, Berlin (Loth)

Figure 7. Franzosischer Dom, Berlin (Loth)

The skyline of Berlin is punctuated with not one but two attenuated versions of Bramante’s design, both erected in 1780-85. In 1775 Frederick the Great ordered the expansion of the Gendarmenmarket into a grand plaza. To provide architectural accents for the space he commissioned Carl von Gontard to design matching domes with porticoed bases for two existing churches: the Deutscher Dom (German Church) and the Franzosischer Dom (French Church). (Figure 7) Though impressive, von Gontard’s domes are non-functional in that they have no interior connection to the buildings below. Nevertheless, they closely followed the Bramante precedent except that the dome crowns, instead of being semi-hemispherical, were stretched for extra height. The drums above the Corinthian colonnades likewise were heightened. Both churches sustained heavy damage from Allied bombing in World War II, requiring extensive restoration.

Figure 8. St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia (Loth)

Figure 8. St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia (Loth)

A commanding interpretation of Bramante’s Tempietto crowns St. Petersburg’s famed Cathedral of St. Isaac of Dalmatia. (Figure 8) Encircling its drum are twenty-four monolithic red granite columns with bronze Corinthian capitals. Enlivening the profile are the twenty-four statues of angels perched on the balustrade. The dome itself is gilded, making it a gleaming landmark for arriving ships. St. Isaacs’s has a complex design history. The cathedral was preceded by two churches, the second one completed in 1802. Emperor Alexander I was not pleased with it and initiated a competition for a much grander church. The project was awarded to the French architect, Auguste Ricard de Montferrand, who had studied under Napoleon’s architect, Charles Percier. The massive structure took forty years to complete. Its dome consisted of a triple shell using a precedent-setting iron framework system. Montfrerrand framed the dome with belfrys that closely resembled the much maligned “donkey ear” cupolas added to Rome’s Pantheon in the 17th century and removed in 1883. Whether Montferrand’s dome was directly inspired by Bramante’s Tempietto or Soufflot’s Pantheon is difficult to say. Even so, except for the materials and statues, St. Isaac’s dome nearly replicates Soufflot’s dome, a work Monferrand would surely have known.

Figure 9. United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. (Loth)

Figure 9. United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. (Loth)

Thomas U. Walter gave us our national symbol with his design for the dome of the United States Capitol. (Figure 9) The dome was part of the Capitol’s expansion for which Walter’s design was approved in 1851. His first scheme included grand new wings for the House and Senate but kept Bulfinch’s somewhat awkward saucer dome of 1829. The proposal made it obvious Bulfinch’s dome was visually inadequate for a greatly extended building. Hence, Walter almost immediately began planning a new dome in scale with the palatial structure. Walter’s travels in Europe had familiarized him with the domes of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Soufflot’s Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica. While he didn’t admire St. Paul’s overall design, he did concede merit in its dome. Indeed, his Capitol dome more closely recalls St. Paul’s than any of the European domes he visited. The Capitol dome, however, is far more lavishly detailed, a feat made practicable by the use of cast iron for the entire exterior, a remarkable demonstration of the material’s potentials. We might say that the Capitol dome is the Tempietto carried to its illogical conclusion, but wonderfully so. Walter gave extra dimension to the design by including a squeezed third tier articulated with compressed volutes.

Figure 10. Woolsey Hall entrance, Yale University, New Haven (Loth)

Figure 10. Woolsey Hall entrance, Yale University, New Haven (Loth)

Not all evocations of Bramante’s Tempietto were expressed as huge domes for grandiose buildings. Like the original, a few stayed firmly planted on the ground. Noteworthy among them is Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s 1787 Chartres Rotunda, one of his several Paris tollhouse designs. Closer to home, and similar looking, is the domed circular portico providing the entrance link between Yale University’s Commons and Woolsey Hall, the Yale concert hall. (Figure 10) Completed in 1908, this noble complex is the work of the renowned firm of Carrère & Hastings. Though it gives the impression of being freestanding, the domed structure is embedded in the reentrant angle of the two large halls, which splay from the portico at a nearly right angle. As with most of the buildings in this survey, the columns are in the Corinthian order rather than the Doric of Bramante’s work. Like von Gontard’s Berlin domes, the crown of Yale’s dome is slightly attenuated for extra height. The project is an excellent demonstration of the use of  Bramante’s scheme to provide celebration at an awkward junction of two large halls.

Figure 11. Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison (wisatj.org)

Figure 11. Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison (wisatj.org)

Thomas U. Walter’s great dome on the National Capitol inspired the designs of a remarkable collection of state capitols erected as part of the American Renaissance movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At least fourteen of the capitols display colonnaded domes following the Tempietto formula in varying degrees. Typical is that on George B. Post’s Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, erected 1906-17. (Figure 11) Faced with Bethel white granite supported on a steel superstructure, it is the largest granite dome on the world. The dome echoes the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral by having four of its peristyle bays filled with solid piers decorated with blind arches. These piers serve as backdrops for freestanding statues. A nod to the U.S. Capitol is the use of squat consoles serving as transition between the top of the upper drum and the crown of the dome.

Figure 12. Main Statehouse, Augusta (Historic American Building Survey)

Figure 12. Main Statehouse, Augusta (Historic American Building Survey)

The closest approximation to Bramante’s Tempietto in this survey is the Maine Statehouse dome. Indeed, it is the only one illustrated here that does not employ the Corinthian order. The noted Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch, provided the building’s original design, a scheme that was a simplified version of his Massachusetts Statehouse. An extensive expansion and remodeling in 1909-11 by G. Henri Desmond of the Boston firm of Desmond & Lord preserved Bulfinch’s porticoed facade but replaced his original low saucer dome with the more prominent Tempietto form. (Figure 12) Though much larger than its prototype, Desmond’s dome reflected the restraint of Bramante’s work with the use the Tuscan order for its colonnade and the unadorned metal-clad ribs in the crown. Desmond’s design, moreover, respected the simplicity of Bulfinch’s portico and the no-nonsense character of Maine’s citizens.

Figure 13. El Capitolio, Havanna, Cuba (courtesy of Yomangani)

Figure 13. El Capitolio, Havanna, Cuba (courtesy of Yomangani)

Following the precedent of the numerous American Renaissance capitols, the nation of Cuba undertook the construction of a palatial domed capitol in the 1920s. (Figure 13) Designed by the Cuban architects Raul Otero and Eugenio Raynieri, and completed in 1929, the monumental structure, known as El Capitolio, rivaled any of the state capitols to the north. Its Tempietto-type dome was closely modeled after Soufflot’s Pantheon dome, so closely in fact, that it is almost a copy. Like the Pantheon, it has an uninterrupted peristyle of Corinthian columns with an upper drum punctuated with arch-top windows set in shallow panels. The dome is supported on a steel frame manufactured in the United States. El Capitolio’s legislative use ceased following the Cuban revolution of 1959 and the establishment of the Communist régime. The building has since housed the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment.

Figure 14. West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston (Loth)

Figure 14. West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston (Loth)

Among the most beautiful of the fourteen state capitols crowned by a Tempietto-style dome is that of West Virginia, serenely placed beside the Kanawha River in Charleston. (Figure 14) Charleston became the state capital following the removal of the seat of government from Wheeling in 1877. The first capitol there burned in 1921, whereupon a commission was created to oversee the construction of a new capitol. The commission wisely selected Cass Gilbert, one of the most able architects of the period, whose reputation had been established with his Minnesota State Capitol and New York’s Woolworth Building. For his West Virginia scheme, Gilbert encircled the dome’s drum with a Corinthian colonnade following the precedent of Soufflot’s Pantheon. The dome itself is a close copy of Hardouin-Mansart’s Invalides dome, complete with gilded trophies. His lantern is more restrained, being placed straight on rather than diagonally. Completed in 1932, the capitol is a foremost monument of the American Renaissance.

The examples presented here are only a sampling of the many Tempietto domes throughout Europe and the Americas that grace religious as well as governmental and educational buildings. Some of the most impressive ones date as recently as the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century.  We wonder whether the form has run its course. Will there be noteworthy versions of the Bramante’s masterpiece, either great or small, in the 21st century?

REFERENCES

Elizabeth Mills Brown, New Haven, A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (Yale University Press, 1976)
Gregory Butikov, St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Aurora Art Publishers, 1974)
Kerry Downs, Sir Christopher Wren, The Design of St. Paul’s Cathedral (Trefoil Publications, 1988)
James Stevens Curl, Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (Oxford University Press, 1999)
Terry Friedman, James Gibbs (Yale University Press, 1984)
Ranier Haubrich, Hans Wolfgang Hoffman, Philipp Meuser, Berlin, the Architecture Guide (Verlaghaus Braun, 2006)
Henry Russell Hitchcock and William Seale, Temples of Democracy (Harcourt, 1976)
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, Translated by Robert Tavernor and Richard Schofield (MIT Press 2002)
Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture (Penguin Books, Jubilee Edition, 1960)
Henry Hope Reed, The United States Capitol, Its Architecture and Decoration (W.W. Norton & Company, 2005)
Sebastiano Serlio, The Five Books of Architecture (1982 Dover Publications reprint of the English edition of 1611)
John Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture (M.I.T. Press, 1963)
Wikipedia


[i] Tempietto is Italian for small temple.
[ii]
The Tempietto’s balustrade is one of the earliest known uses of this Renaissance innovation.
[iii]
A tholos is an ancient circular structure topped by a conical roof or dome.  A tholos is usually surrounded by a peristyle or colonnade. The temple at Tivoli, traditionally known as the Temple of Vesta and illustrated by Palladio in Quattro Libri, is one of the best known Roman tholos structures.
[iv]
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, Tavenor and Schofield translation (MIT Press, 2002), p. 64.
[v]
Quoted in Terry Friedman, James Gibbs (Yale University Press, 1984), p. 249.
[vi]
John Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture (MIT Press, 1963), p. 38.

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Fall at the ICAA

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

Paul Gunther

The Fall 2012 schedule in New York and across our 15 chapter regions sets another milestone of dense and varied programming thanks to the combined hard work of volunteers, staff, and instructors alike.  Such cooperative initiatives and their enlivening intent provide the firm basis of recent growth and enterprise.  Please explore the calendars online and make your plans accordingly at any and all locations that fit your schedules ahead. Members and generous friends will have their printed copy of The Forum newsletter in the mail by next week.

With the Class of 2013 Beaux-Arts Atelier and Grand Central Academy of Art now under way at the national facility in New York, focus shifts to enrollment across the board throughout the chapter network

Special notice please to the upcoming award deadlines and their detailed submission requirements:

The Stanford White Awards for Excellence in Classical and Traditional Design in the New York, New Jersey and Fairfield County, CT regions (deadline: October 1, 2012).

The Alma Schapiro Prize for our Affiliated Fine Arts Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (deadline: Monday, November 1, 2012). The artist selected in this upcoming competition can arrange travel for any three months from September 2013 though the spring of 2014.

The Arthur Ross Awards for Excellence in the Classical Tradition (deadline: Monday, December 17, 2012).

The 2012 Rieger Graham Prize fellow, Daniel Heath of Dallas, Texas will begin his stay at the Academy in February 2013.

Spread word of these great opportunities for contemporary classicists.

And one last note before exploring the calendar – a four-set DVD of the ICAA’s seminal Reconsidering Postmodernism conference held last November is now available, filmed and produced by our peerless partners at the Checkerboard Film Foundation (NB: we look forward to a launch event featuring conference participant, author, and journalist Suzanne Stevens – stay tuned for details.) It is a valuable record for those who attended and perhaps even more vitally for those who could not. To secure your copy, please contact David Ludwig at dludwig@classicist.org or call (212) 730-9646 x104. The cost for members is $40 plus shipping and for non-members $75 plus shipping.

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Plinth Members Visit Old Westbury Gardens

by Kristina Mosco & Whitley Esteban, Plinth members

Plinth Visits Old Westbury Gardens

Plinth Members at Old Westbury Gardens

On a lovely August morning, a group of aspiring classical architects gathered to visit and tour Old Westbury Gardens (OWG), located about 25 miles east of New York City in Nassau County, Long Island, easily accessible by train and a short car ride. Along with Fellows of the Institute Michael Mesko, David Rinehart, and Katie Casanta, the group was able to enjoy a delightful tour, lunch, and casual wandering through the Gardens. The group of twelve was kindly guided through the house and gardens by Mrs. Lorraine Gilligan, Director of Preservation at the OWG.

Group in Gardens

Group in the Gardens

Old Westbury, Long Island, NY

Old Westbury

Westbury House

The Westbury House and Gardens served as the country estate for John Phipps and his family for half of a century. John Phipps’s father was Henry Phipps, a partner in the Carnegie Steel Company and a philanthropist, and the family estates can be found throughout the area. Located on Long Island’s famed Gold Coast, named for the abundance of wealth in the area during the late 19th century and early 20th century, this 200-acre estate features gardens by George A. Crawley, who also did the design for the House, in the Charles II manner. The Phipps’ family also had amassed an eclectic furniture collection, fascinating to peruse, and the group naturally pulled out pen and sketchbook to observe particular details. The distinctive yellow slate roof was a recurring topic of discussion, as we learned a bit more about the challenges of historic preservation and ameliorating old with new techniques and technologies. Also interesting to hear about were the house’s additions and changes over time.

Old Westbury Site Map

Westbury House Plan

Interior Details

Interior Details

Garden Views

The most recognizable landscape feature is the Linden Allee, which perfectly frames the terraced south facade of the Westbury House. The garden has both formal and picturesque elements. The Thatched Cottage, a play house for the children of the family, is reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, while the Walled Garden is a lesson in the elegance of symmetry. Despite the passing of time, it is not hard to imagine the estate during a Gatsby-esque party, overflowing with people and life. As we wandered the gardens following the tour of the house, it was hard to believe we were just thirty minutes from Manhattan!

Linden Allee; South Exterior

Linden Allee; South Exterior

Terrace

On the Terrace

Children’s Play House

Gardens

We plan to continue this tradition of exploring the great classical destinations in the surrounding environs. It was a joy to step away from hustle and bustle of the city, to soak in a bit of architectural knowledge, for both town and country. The trip would not be possible without the stewardship of the Fellows of the ICAA, Lorraine Gilligan and her support staff at the Gardens, Lloyd Zuckerberg, and Suzanne Santry for their efforts in coordinating and planning the day.

Plinth

Plinth

This new group has been named, Plinth, with plans to gather for similar events and sketching tours monthly in the Tri-state area. Please stay tuned for these upcoming gatherings this fall, and see you there! Our next destination will be a Riverside Park sketch crawl of memorials, monuments, and buildings. Plinth will meet at Grant’s Tomb (122nd and Riverside Drive) at 1:00 pm on Sunday, September 30, 2012 with culminating sketch review and socializing at Boat Basin Café by 4:00 pm. Following that will be a Sunday, October 21 tour of Forest Hills Gardens with its garden city plan and buildings by the great architect Grosvenor Atterbury on Sunday, October 21. Please e-mail ICAA Fellow, Tony McConnell at a.mcconnell@ramsa.com if you would like to join the Plinth monthly mailing list.

Plinth Founders: Katie Casanta, Michael Mesko, Tony McConnell, and David Rinehart.

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