|A History of Western
Classical 7th-3rd century B.C.
Greek. Greek culture emphasized civic life. Greeks gathered to
discuss issues in the agora, an open space surrounded by public
buildings and temples. These stone temples were the homes of
immortal and powerful deities who were limited by time and space.
The Parthenon is an example of Classical Greek architecture, part
of the temple complex on the Acropolis in Athens. A shrine to the
goddess Athena, it shows Greek attention to clarity and detail.
Roman. Romans were practical and
well organized. Working in concrete
and using the arch and vault, they
built vast structures able to
accommodate large groups of
people. They were outstanding
engineers, building roads
and aqueducts. The Pantheon used a
circular dome with no columns for
support. The Forum included not just
temples, but public buildings, basilicas
Medieval 373-1400 A.D.
Marked by the growth of Christianity
and continuing warfare, the Middle
Ages responded to a single God as
the exclusive source of faith by
constructing churches spacious
enough to accommodate many
worshipers and thick-walled castles
Romanesque. The earliest style of medieval architecture featured
barrel vaults, round Roman-style arches, thick walls and heavy piers
instead of columns. Windows were few and small for defense and
support for the stone vaults, making the buildings heavy and dark.
Romanesque churches were cross-shaped with a nave, transepts,
choir and altar. Thick, rounded walls resisted siege. Common
buildings in the style include churches, monasteries and castles. The
Romanesque style was made obsolete by the introduction of cannon.
Gothic. In contrast to the
dark, heavy architecture of the
early middle ages, Gothic
architecture emphasized height
and light. A graceful form, it
featured pointed arches,
ribbed vaults, buttresses and
slender clusters of columns.
Larger windows glowed with
Renaissance 1400-1600 A.D.
In contrast with the heavenly center of
Gothic architecture, the revival of
classical Greek and Roman styles
brought an earth-centered style.
Characterized by clean lines, geometric
shapes, the circle as primary form and a
renewed sense of symmetry and
proportion, Renaissance architecture
featured columns, semicircular arches,
vaults, pilasters and lintels. With the
discovery of perspective, blueprints
could be drawn and spaces designed to
be grasped from a single viewpoint.
Individual architects were recognized for
their work. Brunelleschi, the first
architect, won a competition to build the
dome of the Duomo in Florence.
In a period of concentrated power and
continual war, leaders wanted their
buildings to make a statement about
their wealth and power In the 17th
and 18th centuries, architecture
became ornate and theatrical, with
irregular shapes, and massive size.
Color, light and shade, and sculptural
values produced emotional impact as
churches, palaces and government
buildings featured opulent
ornamentation, including frescoes on ceilings. Architectural models
allowed designs to be examined in three dimensions.
In an era of revolutionary change, people longed for stability and
tradition. Thus, as the Industrial Revolution led to the introduction
of such new materials as cast iron, steel and glass, a rising middle
class looked to the past for inspiration for their government
offices, banks, hospitals, museums, factories, and commercial
Gothic Revival. The Houses of
Parliament in London are an
example of the Gothic Revival
style that triumphed from
Art Nouveau. A heavily ornamented
style with flowing lines based on
organic forms such as shells, plants,
and waves, Art Nouveau spanned the
turn of the century. The Spanish
architect Gaudi pushed the form to its
Art Deco. Growing out of art nouveau,
the deco style flourished in the early
decades of the 20th century. It placed
greater emphasis on geometric forms
than organic. Examples are the
Chrysler Building in New York and
Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles.
Modern. The first distinctly American
style, the skyscraper, was pioneered
by Louis Sullivan. With his dictum that
"form follows function," it led to a
simple, unornamented form with curtain
walls of glass and steel.
Neoclassical. After the excesses of
Rococo, architecture returned to
the balanced simplicity and purity of
line of the classics, featuring tall
columns, pediments and domes.
Palladio was a major architect. An
international style, neoclassicism is
seen in the Capitol, Lincoln
Memorial and National Gallery in
Washington, D. C.
During the 20th Century, new materials developed in the previous
century were used in new forms, with skyscrapers racing to the
|Billie and the Duomo in Florence