CLASSICAL COMMENTS: THE DIOCLETIAN WINDOW

Calder Loth

Calder Loth

by Calder Loth
Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Member of the
Institute of Classical Classical Architecture & Art‘s Advisory Council.

Dedicated in 306 A.D., the Baths of Diocletian survive as Rome’s only relatively intact ancient bath structure. Its main space, the vast vaulted frigidarium,[i] was preserved by conversion to a church under the direction of Michelangelo in 1563-64.[ii] A distinctive feature of the frigidarium is the series of huge windows along the upper tier of its side walls. (Figure 1) The window form consists of a large semi-circular arch divided into three sections by two thick vertical mullions.[iii] Because of their association with this structure, windows in this configuration are termed Diocletian windows, but we also describe them as thermal windows from thermae, the Latin word for warm bath. The windows’ brick construction was originally veneered with stone moldings and decorations of which only fragments remain in situ. Nevertheless, the form appealed to Renaissance architects who popularized it through treatises and projects. As we see in the following survey, architects have interpreted and applied the Diocletian window in a variety of ways over the past four and a half centuries.

Baths of Diocletian, Rome

Figure 1. The Baths of Diocletian, Rome (Loth)

Villa Foscari

Figure 2. Villa Foscari, Italy (Loth)

Andrea Palladio undertook detailed studies of Roman bath ruins with the intention of producing a book on the subject. His project never materialized but various features observed in the ruins found their way into several of Palladio’s designs.[iv] The Diocletian window appears in three of Palladio’s villa elevations published in Book II of I Quattro Libri (1570). Perhaps Palladio’s most prominent Diocletian window dominates the rear elevation of the ca. 1560 Villa Foscari, also known as La Malcontenta. (Figure 2) We have no published drawing of the rear; Palladio’s treatise illustrates only the villa’s portioced façade. Nevertheless, like the ancient prototype, the villa’s huge window is reduced to essentials. Its only ornament is the rustication joints scribed into the stucco.

San Moisè, Venice

Figure 3. San Moisè, Venice (Loth)

Palladio set a precedent for incorporating a Diocletian window into the façades of Venetian churches with his designs for San Francesco della Vigna (1566-70) and S. Maria della Presentazione, also known as Le Zitelle, (1577-80).  Palladio also incorporated Diocletian windows in the clerestory of Il Redentore (consecrated 1592). The tradition extended to several later Venetian churches including the façade added in 1688 by Alessandro Tremignon to the church of San Moisè, perhaps the most luscious Baroque façade in Venice. (Figure 3) Though hardly small, the Diocletian window above the entrance is almost overwhelmed by its Baroque encrustations. The window itself is set well back from the heavily decorated arch and mullions. With its sculptures by Heinrich Meyring, the façade is a monument to the Fini family, its patrons.

Gibbs Building

Figure 4. Gibbs Building, King’s College Cambridge: James Gibbs, A Book of Architecture (1728), plate 34.

In 1724, architect James Gibbs received the commission to design a complex of buildings for the front court of King’s College, Cambridge. Of the three massive structures in Gibbs’s scheme only the West Range, built 1724-31, was realized. For the central pavilions of each front, Gibbs proposed a broad Diocletian window atop a Doric aedicule framing the entrance arch. (Figure 4) This composition closely followed Palladio’s final design for the Villa Pisani at Bagnolo shown in Book II of I Quattro Libri.[v]  As illustrated in Gibbs’s A Book of Architecture (1728), Gibbs intended the pediment slopes of the King’s building to be adorned with statues of reclining scholars in the manner of the figures on Michelangelo’s Medici tombs. The sculptures were never realized. Gibbs proposed a similar combination Diocletian window and portico for Whitton Place, Middlesex, but his design was rejected in favor of a design by Roger Morris.[vi]

Chiswick

Figure 5. Chiswick, London (Loth)

Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, was the primary leader of England’s 18th-century Anglo-Palladian movement. His passion for the architecture of Andrea Palladio and his contemporaries inspired his design for his villa at Chiswick. (Figure 5) Completed in 1729, the compact structure exhibited in its forms and details Lord Burlington’s broad knowledge of Palladian architecture. Burlington crowned his house with an octagonal dome prominently fitted with Diocletian windows on its four main faces. The use of this motif was likely inspired by one of Palladio’s early schemes for the Villa Pisani at Bagnolo, the drawing for which was among Burlington’s large collection of original Palladian drawings. (Figure 6) The stair and inset Palladian window in the drawing are features also reflected in Chiswick.

Design for the Villa Pisani at Bagnolo

Figure 6. Andrea Palladio, Preliminary design for the Villa Pisani at Bagnolo; pen and brown ink drawing, ca. 1542. (Royal Institute of British Architects)

Mount Clare

Figure 7. Mount Clare, Baltimore (Loth)

The lunette in the pediment of Baltimore’s Mount Clare is among America’s very rare Colonial-era versions of the Diocletian window. (Figure 7) Unlike the more standard half-circle examples, Mount Clare’s window is a shallow segment supported with the requisite pair of vertical mullions to give it the thermal form. The voids between the mullions are backed with small window panes. Mount Clare was erected in 1760 as a villa with an extensive park and terraced garden for Charles Carroll, a prominent Maryland patriot. As seen in the illustration, the house walls are laid in header bond, a characteristic feature of the finest colonial Maryland dwellings.

Faneuil Hall

Figure 8. Faneuil Hall, Boston (Loth)

The Diocletian window enjoyed increased though limited popularity during the Early Republic. Boston architect Charles Bulfinch installed them in a handful of his buildings, including his 1805 expansion of the 1742 Faneuil Hall in the heart of Boston. (Figure 8) Bulfinch’s remodeling  involved increasing the original three-bay façade to seven bays and adding the tall third story. To accent the resulting vast pediment, Bulfinch inserted a Diocletian window flanked by two circular windows. Bulfinch gave prominence to the somewhat diminutive Diocletian window by framing it in a broad curved architrave, a trick he used in other designs and one that works effectively in this prodigious structure.

Former Bourse, St. Petersburg

Figure 9. Former Bourse, St. Petersburg, Russia (Loth)

Architect Thomas de Thomon used the Diocletian window with dramatic flair in the attic gable of the St. Petersburg Bourse (Stock Exchange), a monumental landmark on the prow of Vlasilyevsky’s Island, across the Neva from the Winter Palace. (Figure 9) A multiplicity of thin voussoirs forming the arch gives the window the effect of a radiant sun rising from the portico. Partly hiding it, however, is S. Sukhanov’s sculpture group of Neptune with Two Rivers.  Surrounding the building is a peristyle of forty-two unfluted Greek Doric columns, an echo of Paestum. The strategically sited structure served as the center of financial and trade operations for Imperial Russia. Since 1940, the building has housed the Central Naval Museum.

Imperial Stables and Carriage House

Figure 10. Imperial Stables and Carriage House, Pushkin, Russia (Loth)

We see a more lighthearted use of Diocletian windows on the Imperial stables in Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo), the suburban town of palaces and parks south of St. Petersburg. (Figure 10) Rendered in Russia’s virile Neoclassical style, the 1820 stable complex was designed by Vasily Stasov and Smaragd Shustov. Here a series of windows punctuates the façade of the stable courtyard. Setting off each window is a thick, plain lintel painted white to contrast with the tan stucco. The curved lintels reflect the semi-circular plan of the courtyard. The battered doorway and keystone focus attention on the center window. Vasily Stasov is best known as the architect of the Winter Palace staterooms, rebuilt after the fire of 1837.

Fireproof Building, Charleston

Figure 11. Fireproof Building, Charleston, South Carolina (Loth)

Architect Robert Mills incorporated a Diocletian window in the Meeting Street elevation of the Fireproof Building, constructed 1820-27 as a state office building. (Figure 11) It quickly became known as the Fireproof Building because of its pioneering use of non-combustible materials to protect government records. Though he was a dedicated classicist, Mills used the Diocletian motif in only a few instances. His mentor, Thomas Jefferson, interestingly, applied the motif to none his buildings. In the Fireproof Building, Mills tied the window into a composition embracing the three-part window below. Accenting it is a decorative iron railing, giving a lightness to an otherwise visually solid structure.

Low Memorial Library

Figure 12. Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, New York City (Loth)

The firm of McKim, Mead & White made use of the Diocletian window in a variety of forms in numerous projects. In two of the firm’s most monumental works: Pennsylvania Station (1906-10; demolished 1964) and Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library (1893-95), the widows were of such huge scale that they were divided by four vertical mullions rather than the more standard two. (Figure 12) The use of four mullions at Low Library may have been dictated by the fact that the mullions are metal rather than thick masonry.  Nevertheless, with the window panes set in Roman lattice, the broad composition has a gracefulness despite its size.

Bavarian State Chancellery

Figure 13. Bavarian State Chancellery, Munich, Germany (Loth)

The heavy classicism of Imperial Germany, known as the Wilhelmine style, is boldly exhibited in the central domed section of what is now the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich. (Figure 13) At the base of the dome is a pedimented pavilion framing a rusticated Diocletian window, a weighty contrast to the window in the Natural History Museum shown below. Designed by Ludwig Mellinger, the building’s center section is all that remained of the 1905 Bavarian Army Museum following the Allied bombing in World War II.  The destroyed wings were rebuilt in 1992 in glassy greenhouse style to house the state legislature and government offices.

Museum of Natural History

Figure 14. Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. (Loth)

The firm of Hornblower and Marshall provided our National Mall with a classic Diocletian window set in the open tympanum pediment of the Natural History Museum, built 1901-11. (Figure 14) The allusion to classical Antiquity is reinforced by the use of bronze Roman lattice in the openings. Executed in white granite, the window’s plain architrave frame and vertical mullions lend the composition a restrained monumentality. Below the window is a hexastyle colonnade employing the Corinthian order of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the three columns of which survive in the Roman Forum. The museum’s pediment and window is one of four identically treated pediments providing buttressing for the dome of this monument of the American Renaissance.

Memorial Gymnasium, UVA

Figure 15. Memorial Gymnasium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Loth)

The ancient Roman baths provided excellent precedents for enormous formal enclosures such as railroad stations and gymnasiums. We see this in the University of Virginia’s Memorial Gymnasium, whose form was inspired by the Baths of Diocletian. (Figure 15) Completed in 1924, the design was the product of an architectural commission with Fiske Kimball, founder of the university’s school of architecture, serving as supervising architect. As with the Diocletian bath’s frigidarium, Memorial Gymnasium’s side elevations are composed of a series of gables supporting huge Diocletian windows. The gymnasium’s brick construction reflects the brick walls of the Roman baths, stripped of their stone veneers.

Brooks Brothers Store, Beverly Hills

Figure 16. Brooks Brothers Store, Beverly Hills, California (Loth)

Although modern applications of the Diocletian window are rare, the form remains a useful one and can lend potency to a composition. Architect Allan Greenberg effectively applied the motif to the façade of the 1997 Tommy Hilfiger flagship store on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, now the Brooks Brothers store. (Figure 16) The window’s allusion to the masculine camaraderie and physical fitness of the ancient baths was appropriate for a firm specializing in men’s haberdashery.  It is hoped that young architects specializing in classical architecture will, like Greenberg, appreciate the design potential of this powerful ancient window form and will regard it as a resource for 21st-century projects.


[i] The frigidarium was the main space in the bath complex. It was so termed because it contained a series of pools for cold baths.
[ii]
The church name is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. It was further embellished by architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1749.
[iii]
The bottoms of the arches, where the curve meets the lintel, have been infilled with masonry for extra support, giving the arch a slightly stilted look.
[iv]
Palladio’s drawings of the baths were eventually published by Lord Burlington in 1730, and by Charles Cameron in 1772.
[v]
The portico proposed for the Villa Pisani was not built but the Diocletian window is intact.
[vi]
Terry Friedman, James Gibbs (Yale University Press, 1984), p. 317.

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A Sunday at Grand Central Terminal

On Sunday, January 27, 2013 at the conclusion of the Winter Board Meeting, members of the ICAA Board of Directors and Fellows, along with BAA students and instructors, gathered at Grand Central Terminal for a tour of the beaux-arts building. Leading the tour was Francis Morrone, architectural historian, member of the Institute’s Advisory Council, and winner of the 2012 Arthur Ross Award in the category of History/Journalism. Coinciding with Grand Central Terminal’s centennial celebration, Francis offered the group a glimpse into the spectacular 100-year history of this iconic building.

All photos courtesy of Gay Giordano

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Cataloging Contemporary Classicism on Pinterest

Pinterest boardBy Christine G. H. Franck

The contemporary renaissance of classical architecture is vast and varied. Whether large or small, public or private, canonic or abstract, new classical buildings increasingly grace our built environment. To showcase this I’ve developed a Catalog of Contemporary Classical and Traditional Architecture on Pinterest.*

In over two decades of lecturing on contemporary classicism I have often battled the naysayers’ favorite refrains: “you can’t build like that today,” and “oh, that’s just about houses for rich people.” Well, gentle reader, you and I know that we can and do build “like that” today and that the classical tradition always has been and always will be about far more than “just houses,” but without examples such criticisms were hard to refute. Now, in one place, you can see and share the rich variety of the classical tradition today.

Pinterest imagesWhile still a work in progress, I have begun “pinning” projects by members of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, the RIBA’s Traditional Architecture Group and INTBAU’s International College of Traditional Practitioners. I generally select one image per project, with some exceptions, and try to list the project name, location, and architect with a link to the architect’s website. The projects are sorted onto boards of different building types. Organized in this way, this catalog serves as a resource for the media, academics, practitioners, manufacturers, builders, and perhaps even clients.

At this time I am focused on new construction rather than renovations or historical work. Recently, I have added categories for award winning projects and videos, and I anticipate adding new categories in the future. If you do not yet see your work, please be patient, I have only just begun. Over time, I hope to develop for us a complete picture of the breadth and depth of contemporary classical architecture.

Pinterest

* For those of you not familiar with Pinterest, think of it as the modern day equivalent of a bulletin board with images of things that inspire you pinned on it.

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2013 Winterim Professional Intensive

Saturday, January 12, 2013 marked the bittersweet conclusion of the 10-day Winterim Professional Intensive. Fourteen students hailing from throughout the United States presented their final works as part of the Vernissage and End of Winterim Intensive Reception. The 2013 participants were as follows:

Tabita Daolio, Brazil (Hampton University Scholarship winner)

Sharlita Green, Tennessee

James Martin, Washington, DC

Michael Zaragoza, New Jersey

Kevin Clark, Nebraska

Jamie Hottovy, Nebraska

Stephen Kivimaki, Massachusetts

Stephen Trudic, Ohio

Christopher Weeks, Ohio

Stephen Shriver, California (SoCal Chapter Winterim Scholarship winner)

Philip Gill, California

Hill Swift, Texas

Genevieve Irwin, New York

Peter Spalding, New York

 

Each year, the vernissage offers participants the opportunity to showcase their response to the intensive’s main design problem. This year, instructors asked the students to conceptualize a redesign of Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall in honor of the landmark building’s centennial. Currently used as a multipurpose event and commercial space, the hall sits empty and unused for a significant portion of the year. Recognizing a need for a secured waiting area for ticketed passengers, instructors led the group on multiple tours of the space — including explorations of the space’s history, measuring, and sketching — that provided a foundation from which to work.

 

Early Exposure: Instructor Michael Djordjevitch leads the group on a tour of Grand Central Terminal, bringing to life the history of the space and inspiring attention to details long since removed or altered.

 

Time Traveling: Sharlita Green, Tabita Daolio, Genevieve Irwin, and Stephen Shriver listen intently as Djordjevitch describes Vanderbilt Hall as it existed fifty years ago.

 

Wonder As You Wander: The group, including instructor Marvin Clawson, study the Terminal’s exterior and discuss the primary Order used in its design.

 

Gaining Perspective: Stephen Shriver, Philip Gill, Kevin Clark, Stephen Trudic, Mike Zaragoza, and Christopher Weeks assume varying positions to measure and document the dimensions and shape of Vanderbilt Hall.

 

No Boundaries: Christopher Weeks and Genevieve Irwin measure Vanderbilt Hall by hand. The process of measurement proved a crucial foundation for understanding of and intimacy with the space of Vanderbilt Hall.

 

Throughout the 10 days, courses in traditional drafting, observational drawing, Euclid, wash rendering, proportion, and the Orders all bolstered the students’ approach to the design challenge. The resulting works evidenced a mastery of both form and function and were a testament to the long hours spent in the studio — a total of 93, to be exact.

 

Laying the Foundation: Stephen Shriver and Kevin Clark work diligently on their analytiques.

 

All in the Details: Kevin Clark works to flesh out lettering on his award-winning analytique.

 

Ducks in a Row: Philip Gill, Stephen Shriver, Stephen Kivimaki, and Sharlita Green work into the night to put finishing touches on their designs.

 

At Saturday night’s closing event, students presented their analytiques to a panel of distinguished jurors — renowned architects Peter Pennoyer and Mark Ferguson and Margaret Kittinger, Director of Interior Design and Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle. These exceptional critics provided insightful commentary that further illuminated the utility of an intensive approach to hand rendering.

 

Sharlita Green presents her analytique to the three guest jurors.

 

Kevin Clark presents his first-place winning plan for the redesign of Vanderbilt Hall.

 

Though compelling designs were presented by all, three students were recognized for exceptional responses to the design challenge: 1st Place — Kevin Clark of Nebraska, 2nd Place — Hill Swift of Texas, and 3rd Place — Peter Spalding of the Beaux-Arts Atelier in New York City.

 

The group, including instructors and jurors, from left to right: Martin Brandwein, Christopher Weeks, Seth Weine, Sharlita Green, James Martin, Tabita Daolio, Genevieve Irwin, Peter Spalding, Marvin Clawson, Jamie Hottovy, Peter Pennoyer, Margaret Kittinger, Philip Gill, Mark Ferguson, Steve Shriver, Mike Zaragoza, Michael Djordjevitch, Hill Swift, Kevin Clark, Stephen Kivimaki, Stephen Trudic

 

Subsequent to the reception, students celebrated with a gathering at the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Terminal, co-sponsored by Marvin Clawson of Clawson Architects. Formerly the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon John W. Campbell, there could have been no more appropriate setting for a final tribute to 10 days of work well done.

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ATTINGHAM SUMMER SCHOOL 2012

By Barbara Eberlein, Philadelphia Chapter President
Eberlein Design Consultants Ltd., Philadelphia, PA

When it became clear that I might finally have in requisite order the running of a busy design firm (and even busier children!) allowing me at last to apply to Attingham, I was buoyed by a steady chorus of alumni, led by Jennie McCahey and Jim Mundy, musically buzzing in my ear “do it, do it, do it”.  Their volume increased dramatically when I was accepted and it became a veritable aria expounding on the glories of the program always ending with the finale of “it will change your life”… And indeed it has.

Ten years ago, I had the great fortune of visiting many castles, palaces and country houses in England and Scotland frequently sharing time with the owners who were gracious, patient, and knowledgeable.  I wondered how Attingham could possibly add more to these magical experiences.  But by Day 2 at West Dean, it was obvious that here was a group of passionate scholars who together generated a far more powerful influence than I had imagined.  Transcending mere collegiality, we became an integrated organism with complementary skills, interests, and outlooks.  Together, our ability to observe and absorb new experiences increased exponentially.  Curiously, the integration within our group began to mirror the integration we witnessed in the aesthetic development across the fields of architecture, decorative arts, landscape design and the fine arts.  Unlike most academic courses in which information comes from a single source in a linear fashion, at Attingham I felt positively enveloped in history borne up by the tutors, the owners, and my fellow students.  A deeper understanding was inevitable as our inquiry grew to encompass religion, politics, economics, and social hierarchy.  Here was LIVING history — relevant and real.

From the outset, Attingham set high standards for individual contribution which proved to be most rewarding, each of us having unique expertise to impart.  We weren’t just consumers of knowledge, we were producers…  and all felt honored to be recognized as such.

As a practicing designer in the field of restoration and historically inspired work, it was a distinct privilege to interact on a daily basis with academics, curators, conservators, and historians whose scholarship adds immeasurably to what I produce. The breadth and depth of their knowledge coupled with a passion for contextual learning and interdisciplinary study provides the essential foundation for the design professions.  These dedicated specialists are like extraordinarily gifted musicians, each offering an inspired understanding of their unique instruments.  And I, like the conductor of this orchestra, without playing any particular instrument, must understand and appreciate the subtlety and nuances of each in order to create a beautiful sound.  It is truly a symbiotic relationship that evokes constant gratitude for those generating the real knowledge.

The applicability of my Attingham experiences was evident the moment I returned to the studio to find an inquiry on my desk about a daunting project.  This past spring near Philadelphia, “Bloomfield”, a 1923 masterpiece designed by architect Horace Trumbauer in whose work my firm specializes, had suffered from a tragic fire leaving it seemingly beyond repair.  As I was so accustomed to being part of the rebirth of these houses, reflecting on the destruction of this one was particularly devastating.  I remembered well that it was with trepidation that I entered Uppark, fearful that their post-fire rebuilding efforts would be all too discernible from the original interiors and that the demands of time, money, and sheer will might not have proved adequate.  What a joy then to witness the exacting recreation of ornamental plaster ceilings, carved mantels and millwork, and sumptuous furnishings.  Uppark was a resounding “yes!” to the question of whether such a feat could be achieved, the perfect catalyst for my resounding “yes!” when asked to help rebuild Bloomfield.

Immediate professional rewards seemed to blossom at every turn.  In addition to providing expertise on techniques and aesthetics, the long line of history so elegantly presented throughout Attingham will soon be utilized in my firm’s first commission for a mid-18th century building, one of the oldest on Princeton University’s campus.  For those of us professionally steeped in the 19th century, but hungering for the 18th century and earlier, many of the houses we visited offered an indescribable treasure trove of aesthetic wonders of every imaginable period.  Seeing firsthand early furniture still in situ in early buildings was a revelation, and will serve as a foundational grammar lesson for our own writing of visual poetry in the future.  A recent book written for architects hoping to practice in the classical tradition entitled “Get Your House Right” used to sit on my desk as the ultimate reference bible.  Happily, it has now been replaced by a book of my own Attingham photographs of houses created by architects who have known how to “get your house right” for centuries.  And when, on occasion, it feels like all of one’s creative energies just go out-out-out, I have only to consult my new bible to realize how much Attingham has put in-in-in.

Among the program highlights for me were inspired lectures by equally inspired tutors who instantly refocused attention and expanded understanding particularly in areas where I assumed I had some measure of knowledge:

• Annabel Westman led us on a warp speed, military campaign style tour through the tapestries at West Dean with all of us like enthusiastic puppies scrambling to keep up.
• Peter Brears offered an astonishing portrayal of the life of the staff and the inner workings of the great houses revealing the economy and sheer logic of these well-functioning enterprises.  We who so confidently assume that energy conservation was invented in the 20th century need only witness the 18th century kitchen in action for that notion to be quickly dispelled!
• Helen Hughes shared pigments and potions at Bolsover castle giving a secret glimpse of the conservator’s special brand of alchemy.
• Lisa White’s conjuring of the real atmosphere of candlelit interiors with glittering precious metals, shimmering silks, and sparkling mirrors moved us beyond the difficulties of 18th century life to highlight instead its many delights.

The deeper value of experiences like Attingham came in challenging concepts we confidently (or, more precisely, over-confidently) hold onto so tightly.  This came for me in a most unexpected setting.  Approaching Stourhead in the relentlessly drenching rain, I thought “yes, yes, here comes another pretty English garden; but I’m an interiors person so perhaps I’ll just go inside and study the furniture…”.  But I followed the group into the landscape and soon found myself awestruck in a rare moment of transformative revelation.  Somehow, in the extreme weather, the boundaries between sky, water, and land simply dissolved, blending together all the elements of nature, allowing a spiritual awakening of profound significance.  This magical blending of elements offered a glimpse of the majesty of the natural world with man’s caring hand on it.   Tears well up still when I think of this awesome beauty, almost unimaginable in its power and perfection.  Unable to speak about it at the time, I awoke early the next morning to write the first and only poem of my life which flowed out in a strong, unstoppable stream just like the rain that day.  So yes, everyone was correct in saying this experience will change your life.

And how to extend the impact of Attingham?  I plan to relive my experiences like a glorious 18th century dinner party at which one savors each course slowly and fully by reviewing one day’s learnings each week, carefully consuming this rich dessert of memories and adventures.  Using our program as the ultimate guide, several of my colleagues have planned an encore expedition in Scotland next summer to further extend the lifelong learning that Attingham encourages.  This living history presents a continuum on which we can find ourselves again and again in our roles as scholars, practitioners, and stewards.

In a greater sense, Attingham has evoked in me a profound sense of respect for the intelligence, inventiveness, ingenuity, perseverance, sophistication, and delight of our forebears.  For centuries, it was they who built and created with the kind robust enthusiasm we witness today only as a rare exception.  We spoke at length about “spirit of place” and understand now how vital the relationship is between the built and the natural environment.  The change from archaeological history to living history encourages the replacement of the statement “someone LIVED here” with “someone LIVES here”, an essential shift.  The insight offered by this program will have enduring significance because it teaches that it’s not just about knowing more facts, it’s about understanding a world, our world, in a fundamental way that encourages informed and enlightened expression, creativity, and appreciation.

My sincere thanks go to Helen Jacobsen, Andrew Moore, Rebecca Parker and the host of dedicated scholars, administrators, patrons, and house owners whose dedication, leadership, and generosity allow this unparalleled program to thrive decade after decade.  The Class of 2012 has enjoyed a rare privilege indeed.

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2013 Commences with the Winterim Intensive

Paul Gunther

A message from our President, Paul Gunther

The Institute extends good wishes for 2013 along with sincere appreciation for the generous donations made and still being made towards our annual appeal as the essential core of all we do. We are aware of the many good causes importuning your support, especially at this time of uncertainty about the precise ramifications of public policy change now unfolding. Your generous gift at all levels supports the essential core of our labors. Support the Institute today.

Such labors are ideally exemplified by the annual, filled-to-capacity Winterim session currently under way at the national headquarters, where students from eight states as well as the District of Columbia and Brazil are engaged in the rigorous ten-day immersion in our core contemporary classical curriculum. The centerpiece of the binding design assignment is our neighboring Grand Central Terminal in the nascent year of its centennial: in particular a re-envisioning of its stately Vanderbilt (aka Onassis) Hall entrance along East 42nd Street. While restored, it nonetheless stands empty and devoid of seating and public accommodation (apart from occasional special events and trade shows): a moribund jewel in our civic crown. To correct that shortcoming binds the collective instruction.

Winterim studio

Winterim studio

Winterim at Grand Central

Winterim students at Grand Central Terminal

I salute the Southern California Chapter, the Marilyn and Ray Gindroz Foundation/Hampton University architectural initiative, and Roy Zeluck (in his brother Kevin’s fond memory) for their Winterim scholarships, which along with your combined grace and earned tuition bring them all here to study.

With Southern California in mind, I am pleased to report that architect Tim Barber, of Los Angeles and this crucible chapter, has become the new trustee representative of the College of Chapters as elected in October at its annual presidents’ conclave, replacing as he does Andrew Cogar of Georgia, who has now become a regular member of the board of directors as a measure of his many attributes and contributions. We are delighted with his appointment.

I wish too to remind all of the peerless monthly blog posts from official ICAA advisor, Calder Loth. It has been nearly a year since we last aggregated his contributions and so benefit at the start of this new semester by including his most recent post with his lively investigation of alternating pediments, in addition to his illustrative posts from the past year:

Monumental ChurchThe Tempietto, Grandfather of DomesThe Composite Order
Weatherboards and ClapboardsJeffersonian Temples of JusticeEustyle
The Parthenon and its DerivativesArchitectural Etymology

We are so glad and grateful for such insights along with all those that come our discerning way; blogs like the “Tradarch listserv” is just one of many resources we strive to bring your mindful way.

Finally, I salute the rigorous critical trail-blazing of Ada Louise Huxtable, whose passing last weekend at age 91 deserves our salute. While in no way could one accurately label her a classicist per se, she was nonetheless a refreshing ecumenical voice free of fixed dogma. She left the door open to lessons of history in the face of modernist orthodoxy at its pinnacle that in turn helped spawn the Institute. As Michael Kimmelman quotes Ms. Huxtable in this morning’s Times, “When so much seems to conspire to reduce life and feeling to the most deprived and demeaning bottom line, it is more important than ever that we receive that extra dimension of dignity or delight and the elated sense of self that the building can provide through the nature of the places, where we live and work.” Surely as accurate a humanist summary of our mission as could possibly be drawn.

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