aarchitecture - The art of designing and constructing buildings (structures), and other environmental features. A person who practises architecture is called an architect.

The jargon of architecture is what architects and designers archly call "talkitecture" or "archispeak." They refer to windows as "glazing" or "fenestration," and a beam or lintel as "trabeation." A covered driveway is a "porte-cochere." Nothing is simply flat, it's "planar" instead. Construction people are content with solid Anglo-Saxon words: wall, window, and door. Architects add a savory salad of Latin- and French-based words. Architects eschew gustatory metaphors like my salad, but they can't hold back from using the human body as metaphor: a building can have arms, head, spine, skeleton, skin, etc.

Western periods of architectural history generally parallel those of the other arts: classical, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Modernism, and Postmodernism among them.

Some examples of architecture:




see thumbnail to rightEngland, Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge, 2750-1500 BCE, a Neolithic monumental stone temple / observatory. Also see circle, dolmen, megalith, menhir, monolith, and Stone Age.



Egypt, El Giza, Great Pyramid also known as "Pyramid of Cheops" or "Khufu's Pyramid" (tallest of the three pictured), 2600-2480 BCE, bearing masonry (cut stone), 756 feet square in plan, and 481 feet (153 meters) high. The square of its height equals the area of each triangular face, as determined by Herodotus in 450 BCE. The base of the pyramid covers about 13 acres. The pyramids at Giza are descendants of earlier stepped designs which were built in superimposed layers. They are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture. To build the Great Pyramid it took an about 2,300,000 dressed stone blocks (averaging 2.5 tons each) — more than any other structure ever built. Contemporary Egyptologists think the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges, and then ramped into place.





see thumbnail to rightGreece, Athens, The Parthenon, 447 and 438 BCE. It can be seen at the top in this model of how the Acropolis once appeared. The Parthenon was the first building to be constructed on the Acropolis. It is described as being octostyle peripteral because it has eight columns on its front and the back, and because it is surrounded by a colonnade or peristyle. Inside, it is constructed as most temples were. The central chamber, or cella, faced east. At one end of this chamber was a large wooden statue of Athena which was covered with gold and ivory. There was a pronaos, or porch, at the east end and a opisthodomus, or porch, at the west end. At the back of the temple is a chamber called the Parthenon, or chamber of the Virgin, which was used as a treasury and held the sacrifices. This plan was very common among temples of that period.
See a picture of the Parthenon: a photo of c. 1990, an engraving of a restoration. Also see Greek art and mythology.



see thumbnail to leftEgypt, Early Roman period, c. 15 BCE, Temple of Dendur, Aeolian sandstone, length of gateway and temple 82 feet (25 m), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Egyptian art.






see thumbnail to rightRoman Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater, 70 to 82 CE, a vast ellipse with tiers of seating for 50,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena. The Colosseum had approximately eighty entrances so crowds could arrive and leave easily and quickly. The plan is a vast ellipse, measuring externally 188 x 156 m (615 x 510 feet), with the base of the building covering about 6 acres. Vaults span between eighty radial walls to support tiers of seating and for passageways and stairs. The façade of three tiers of arches and an attic story is about 48.5 m (158 feet) tall. Below the wooden arena floor, there were numerous rooms and passageways for wild beasts and other provisions for staging the spectacles. Eighty walls radiate from the arena and support vaults for passageways, stairways and the tiers of seats. At the outer edge circumferential arcades link each level and the stairways between levels. The three tiers of arcades are faced by three-quarter columns and entablatures, Doric in the first story, Ionic in the second, and Corinthian in the third. Above them is an attic story with Corinthian pilasters and small square window openings in alternate bays. At the top, brackets and sockets carried the masts from which the velarium, a canopy for shade, was suspended. The construction utilized a careful combination of types: concrete for the foundations, travertine for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, and brick-faced concrete used for the upper levels and for most of the vaults.






see thumbnail to leftThe Pantheon, Rome, 118 CE, photo. It consists of a great circular hall (roofed by a hemispherical vault), which is entered by first passing through the pronaos. All sixteen columns of the pronaos are monoliths of Egyptian granite. The pediment was decorated with reliefs in gilt bronze as were the internal trabeations of the pronaos. See pantheon and portico.



see thumbnail to rightInterior view of the Pantheon, photo. A portion of the Pantheon's oculus is visible at the top of this photograph, sunlight projecting through it, and landing on a portion of the coffered dome.




see thumbnail to leftHeneage Finch, Fourth Earl of Aylesford (English, 1751-1812), Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, pen and ink and watercolor on paper, 26.4 x 18.3 cm, Tate Gallery, London.


see thumbnail to rightEnglish, from the encyclopedia, 1897: Four views of the Pantheon: front elevation, flank elevation, cross-section, and floor plan, late 19th century, engraving. See cross-section, elevation, and plan.




Roman, Rome, Arch of Severus, 205, bearing masonry. A classic example of a triumphal arch.





see thumbnail to rightMaurice de Sully (French), Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, 1163-1250, bearing masonry, cut stone. Notre Dame Cathedral was seminal in the evolution of the French Gothic style. It is 110 feet high -- the first cathedral built on a truly monumental scale. With its compact, cruciform plan, its sexpartite vaulting, flying buttresses and vastly enlarged windows, it became a prototype for future French cathedrals. Also see gargoyle.



Donato Bramante (Italian, 1444-1514), Tempietto of San Pietro, Montorio, Rome, Italy, after 1502, bearing masonry.




see thumbnail to leftAndrea Palladio (Italian, 1508-1580), Villa Rotonda (Villa Capra), begun 1567, general view of exterior, Vicenza, Italy. This building has an identical portico on each of four sides. See Palladian.





see thumbnail to rightMughal Emperor Shah Jahan (Indian, reigned 1627-1658), Taj Mahal, 1630-1653, an Islamic tomb in a walled garden built for Shah Jahan's wife Mumatz Mahal [aka Arjuman Banu Begum], of bearing masonry and inlaid marble, with onion-shape domes and flanking towers, in Agra, India, seat of the Mughal Empire. Sir Banister Fletcher wrote in A History of Architecture, "The interior of the building is dimly lit through pierced marble lattices and contains a virtuoso display of carved marble. Externally the building gains an ethereal quality from its marble facings, which respond with extraordinary subtlety to changing light and weather."




Decimus Burton and Richard Turner (English), Palm House at Kew Gardens, London, England, 1844-48, a greenhouse of glass and iron for the Royal Botanic Gardens, 363 feet long, 100 feet wide, 66 feet high.



John Augustus Roebling (American, 1806-1869), Brooklyn Bridge, 1869-1883, suspension bridge with steel cable, and stone masonry piers. Completed by John's son, Washington Augustus Roebling.






see thumbnail to leftGustave Eiffel (French, 1832-1923) , Eiffel Tower, 1887-1889, exposition observation tower, exposed iron construction, height 985 feet, a symbol of Paris worldwide. Built for Paris's 1889 International Exhibition, the centenary celebration of the French Revolution.



Henry Hobson Richardson (American, 1838-1886), Reading Room of the Crane Library, 1880 - 1883, bearing masonry, rough-cut stone, with eyebrow dormers, and round tower with gable roof, Quincy, Massachusetts.



Antonio Gaudi (Spanish, 1852-1926), Casa Batllo, 1905-1907, an apartment building (remodel), concrete, Barcelona, Spain.





see thumbnail to rightAntonio Gaudi, Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family), masonry, uncompleted during Gaudi's lifetime and uncompleted today, though construction continues. Also see Expressionism.



Louis Sullivan (American, 1856-1924), Carson Pirie Scott & Company department store, Chicago, IL, c. 1912, Chicago, IL.



Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959), Robie House, Chicago, 1909, Chicago, IL, with long overhangs on low-pitched roofs and horizontally raked brick joints. See Prairie style.



Frank Lloyd Wright, Living Room of the Francis W. Little House, 1912-1914, Wayzata, Minnesota. Originally Francis W. Little's country house, this room has been installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



see thumbnail to leftFrank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater House, Edgar J. Kaufmann House, 1937-39, Mill Run, PA. This house is the paradigm of organic architecture, where a building becomes an integral part of its natural setting.
Wright's Model of Fallingwater, 1934-37, acrylic, wood, metal, expanded polystyrene, and paint, 40 1/2 x 71 1/2 x 47 5/8 inches (102.9 x 181.6 x 121 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Readers of the Journal of the American Institute of Architects voted Fallingwater (c. 2000) the best building of the last 125 years. Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New York Times, has called it "one of the most sublime works of art of our time." See rectangle.



Frank Lloyd Wright, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, an art museum art constructed of concrete as a spiral ramping gallery which expands as it coils around an unobstructed well of space, topped by a flat-ribbed glass dome. This building evoked for Wright "the quiet unbroken wave." Also see Prairie style or Prairie school.





see thumbnail to rightGerrit T. Rietveld (Dutch, 1884-1964), Schroder House, 1924-25, steel beams and columns, wood and concrete, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Also see De Stijl.



Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (American, born Germany, 1886-1969)



Charles Edouard Jeanneret, known as 'Le Corbusier' (French, 1887-1965), Villa Savoye, 1928-29, concrete and plastered unit masonry, Poissy, France. See French art.




see thumbnail to leftCharles Edouard Jeanneret, known as 'Le Corbusier', Notre Dame du Haut, or Ronchamp, 1955, reinforced concrete, soft-form composition, deep windows with colored glass, wall thickness 4-12 feet, Ronchamp, France. Sited atop a hillside, it has rough masonry walls faced with whitewashed Gunite (sprayed concrete) and a roof of contrasting beton brut. Surrealism is a key to many of Le Corbusier's late works, and notably the church at Ronchamp. Its form has been considered analogous to a nun's habit, or a ship, or a dove.



R. Buckminster Fuller (American, 1895-1983)




see thumbnail to rightPhilip Johnson (American, 1906-2005), Johnson House, also known as The Glass House, New Caanan, Connecticut, 1949, steel frame with glass, with an open plan, and a bath in brick cylinder. The basic concept for the Johnson House came from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (German, 1886-1969).



Gae Aulenti (French, contemporary), Musée d'Orsay, 1980-1987, a railway station remodeled to become a museum for nineteenth century art, bearing masonry, etc., Paris.



I. M. (Ieoh Ming) Pei (American, 1917-) , Pyramid of the Louvre, 1989, the art museum entrance, constructed of glass, steel rods and cable. This photo: looking through an arch in the museum building toward the pyramid in its courtyard (the "Cour Napoleon").



Frank O. Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, 1997, much of its outer covering or "skin" is made of titanium sheets, Bilboa, Spain. "The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a collection of interconnected blocks housing galleries, an auditorium, a restaurant, a museum store and administrative offices. These buildings have as their central focus a single architectural composition. With its towering roof, which is reminiscent of a metallic flower, the museum will enliven the riverfront and serve as a spectacular gateway to the city." Because architectural designs composed of such biomorphic forms are worked out by computer programs, this sort of design has been called blob architecture ( a term coined by architect Greg Lynn in 1995. He's said it was derived from a sort of acronym for a technical description of a computer-formed shape a "binary large object."),



Richard Rogers (Italian, 1933-) and Renzo Piano (Italian, 1937-), Centre Pompidou, 1972 - 1976, high-tech steel and glass museum, with a cast exoskeleton, and a staircase in a transparent tube.



Richard Meier (American, 1934-), High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, 1983.



see thumbnail to leftZaha Hadid (British, 1950-, born Iraq), The Peak, a project for Kowloon, Hong Kong, China; exterior perspective, 1991, synthetic polymer on paper mounted on canvas, 51 x 72 inches (129.5 x 182.9 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.





see thumbnail to rightMaya Lin (American, 1959-), Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, D.C.,1982, a powerfully evocative minimalist monument, a V-shaped wall of polished black granite on which have been carved the names of Americans who died. The wall is 10.1 feet high at its center. The entire length of the wall is 493.5 feet; each half is 246.75 feet long. The wall contains 58,175 names (as of October 1990). The names (and other words) on the wall are 0.53 inches high and 0.015 inches deep.







Related Links:




Also see architect, CAD, design, environment art, and furniture; and articles about building materials and elements, such as adobe, arch, buttress, cement, column, fenestration, frieze, glass, lintel, masonry, niche, steel, stone, structure, tile, etc., and trabeation; such building types as bridge, cathedral, mosque, museum, tower, theater, etc.; and to such other articles as charette, chinoiserie, crown, egg-and-dart, épure, esquisse, gemütlichkeit, interdisciplinary, mathematics and art, scale, and universal artwork.




ArtLex Art Dictionary

Copyright © 1996-current year