Posted in History n Theory

Explorations – point theory

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“In the 19th century, the container is a different style than that which it contains.”  This last “Explorations” section of our reading began with this saying from lecture.  From here, we explored the World Fair Building in London.  This building from 1851 was similar in design to the crystal palace and the inside housed charities of interiors of a seemingly different time period.  Remembering where we started from is important to remembering how we ended this section and semester.  To see where design is currently and seeing where design is going is a sharp contrast to how design began.  Stonehenge, Lascaux, Ziggurats.  These structures, from caves to tombs and temples, were design with a purpose. Each structure was carefully planned and constructed to show strength, power and to tell a story.  The suburban style, cookie cutter homes of today, sometimes called McMansions, are designed with faux materials, built quickly and many show little mastered skill of a classical trade. Charles Ashbee said, “We do not reject the machine, we welcome it.  But we desire to see it mastered.”  I feel we are still in the process of trying to master design and somewhere along the way in the last few decades, we lost the purpose.

The 19th Century brought about some new materials being used in construction. Metal, Glass and Concrete were easily available now and helped build  not only a larger variety of buildings, but also build them vertically taller and with many larger open spaces.  According to our Roth Book, (pg. 492), “ The Palais des Machines of 1889 was made possible by the growth of industry in producing iron and steel, as well as by the application of mathematical statics to determine the forces at work in such large structures.  They were manifestations of the impact of the machine on Architecture.”  During the mid to late 1800’s, this becomes apparent in Chicago.  Chicago we founded in 1833 with 300 people.  By 1900, it had grown to over 2 million and was larger then any other city due to the trade routes on Lake Michigan.  Because of this, the city needed to increase their infrastructure to accommodate the increased population as well as the commercial need and the skyscraper was born.  Circulation flow was helped by the invention of the Otis Elevator in 1870’s and using some classical influence was seen now.  When designing the skyscraper, there were three important things to take notice upon seeing their exterior facade.  How the building meets the ground, how it meets the sky and then what happens in between.  Henry Robson Richardson’s Marshall Field Warehouse, built in Chicago from 1885-1887 was influenced by the residential Italian Palazzo. 

During this period, there is more of a sense of the Interior Design profession.  Looking to Will Bradley as a model for interior architecture, he shows what rooms can look like if done holistically with surface decoration.  Louis Tiffany, most famous for lamps, was also a surface decorator and interior architect.  We see the revival of medieval forms for buildings while updating them for modern times.  Inspirations from Art – finding that link between all fine arts and implied arts helps us move forward into Post Impressionism, Cubism, Expressionism and Futurism. Taking what is happening in the world and translating it into a form to live or work in.  Art Nouveau is important to mention here, as it was the first movement in art that only looks forward,not backwards to the classics.  Centered in France as a design style, it experimented in colors and geometry.  Art Nouveau helped paved the way to the creation of more curvilinear forms seen later, such as Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal in New York’s JFK airport and the St. Louis Arch,

By far, this was my favorite section we studied and have really increased my awareness of how each style of architecture had their own piece of a revolution.. Trying to make what once was into something more fitting for “modern” times and learning that “Modern” is all relative to the time period, culture and age of the person describing modernism.  We ended our lectures with a quote by Luis Barragan that I found inspirational and very fitting to my way of moving forward in the design industry.  “A perfect garden, no matter what its size, should enclose nothing less then the entire universe.”

Posted in History n Theory

[iar 222] Reading Comprehension 7

In our last reading comprehension, were were assigned to view an exhibit at the Weatherspoon Art Museum entitled “Inquiring Eyes: Greensboro Collects Art.  According to their website,  “this exhibit is the prelude to the museum’s 70th anniversary celebration next year and features 111 artists from private Greensboro art collections.” This collection features 7 different themes of which I was assigned “Creature World”. 

I chose to diagram the work by Jim Hodges titled “Good Morning”, as seen on the left of the picture from the Weatherspoon’s website.  This piece consists of a hanging silk scarf with a silver chain in the shape of a metal spider web dangling from a ripped portion of the scarf.  In this piece, it has been suggested that it represents the element and passage of time.  I suggest that it is of Post Modern design and have included my interpretation of it here.

  In our Harwood volume 2 book (pg. 837), it describes the concept of post modernism adopting “a pluralistic, inclusive approach that acknowledges the importance of communication, complexity and diversity of aesthetics, form, space and color.” On page 844 of Harwood, it states “ Colors inspired by designers… Include dusty pink, mauve, terra-cotta, pale yellow, blue, aqua and celadon.  Materials are often selected because of their color impact.”  “Good Morning” displays complexity by the woven nature of a spider web.  The colors of the scarf, such as  pinks and pale yellows, as well as the silky nature creating a harsh contrast to the metallic chain used in the webbing.

Posted in History n Theory

[HISTORY & THEORY OF DESIGN II] reading comprehension 5

From the Roth, Harwood, and Massey readings, select an ARTIFACT you believe to represent
revolution in design. SPECULATE about the type of revolution this artifact symbolizes. Supplement
your answer with a beautifully hand rendered image of the artifact you selected, citing source and page on your image.

In doing this weeks reading, I came across a chair that I think represents revolution in design.  Taking influences from the Renaissance time period, The Quarta Chair by Mario Botta (1984) found in our Harwood book (page 185) I feel is an interesting interpretation on classical design. Made from Aluminum piping and pvc spacers, this angular design has hints of gothic (angular), art deco (high gloss/flashy materials) and modern industrial design (by its use of metal). With these different style periods found in this one chair design, it portrays an evolution of design from classical to modern.

Quarta Chair Sketch by Audra Volpi

 Using the internet, LOCATE and ANALYZE an image for an ARTIFACT, a SPACE, a BUILDING, and a PLACE, drawing the idea of eastern influences as understood by nineteenth-century minds (China, Japan, India, Middle Eastern) on western design and architecture. Each answer must include an
appropriately annotated and cited image in addition to a well-crafted essay to defend your choice of
each image and the ways (more than one) that the material item responds to design influences from the

This artifact, plastic beads pressed into a wooden form covered in beeswax, is from a group called the Huichol in Western Mexico.   Although this has much Spanish influence by the design of the beads on the parrot, I also found eastern influence.  From our class notes and lecture on 10/28/10, the Western world imitated the eastern world in many ways in the area of decorative arts. The use of vibrant colors, animal and nature captured in objects, fabrics and materials.  The colors of this piece, I feel, portrays the vibrancy in color that the eastern world opened up to us.

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The space I chose that perfectly resembles the eastern influence over western design is the Peacock Room, originally designed by Thomas Jeckyll and then completed by James McNeill Whistler.  From the gold guilding on the wooden panels with painted peacocks and ceiling detail, to the lattice work that forms a sort of cage against the wall to house a porcelain
collection, it is clear to see the influences that the East had in this design come out in the contrasting vibrant colors, use of animals and nature in the paintings as well as material choices.

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The arts and crafts practitioners, in the mid to late 1800’s, started to narrow down and focus on what styles needed to be looked at in more detail.*  (class notes 10/28)  When Frank Lloyd Wright built Robie House, his design portrayed some eastern influence.  From the low lying roof to the angular shaped exterior, to the minimalistic decorative style, this could be interpreted to be highly eastern in nature.

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No place on earth screams Chinese influence more then Chinatown in NYC.  Having grown up in New York, I spent many a night having dinner in this part of town and am fascinated by how much it has grown over the years.
In the mid 1800’s, Chinese traders and sailors began coming to the United States and a small number of them settled in New York.  Now, with an estimated population of over 150,000 crowding these small streets, it has grown considerably in downtown New York City and has communities now growing in Queens County. There are hundreds of restaurants, fruit and fish markets and many bakeries and tourist shops.

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Posted in History n Theory

POINT: alternatives

In starting out this point essay on the recent Alternatives section we have completed, I decided to look up the definition of “Alternative” from The New Oxford American Dictionary.

Adjective: of or relating to behavior that is considered unconventional and is often seen as a challenge to traditional norms
Noun:  one of two or more available possibilities

One can see by the readings and the lectures, that this unit was definitely labeled appropriately.  Taking the knowledge we had from the ancient forms from Greece, Rome and Egypt and seeing how they have been transformed, or altered, to the modern times of the Renaissance during the 14th to 17th century.  It has been said many times in lecture that we are still in the Renaissance, but for the purpose of this essay, I am focusing on the time period stated above.

Beginning with Egypt, we have learned that they had established the axis and used them in their designing of their architecture.  They used their columns to tell a story to keep their society alive throughout history.  In Greece, they began the design of the early Temples, called a Megaton.  In this design, they included a porch, hearth and a court.  The Greeks had a command for asymmetrical balance and making things all appear ideal.  Romans kept many of the design elements from Greece, however they brought in more of a mathematical way of designing and they began the grid city patterns.  Knowing these basic ideas from each culture, we move forward to the Renaissance and the questions, “How do you take the stuff from the past and make it your own for the future?”(1)

Tempietto of San Pietro

This can be seen in the building of Tempietto of San Pietro · Montorio, Rome, Italy 1502. This is said to be the perfect temple, taking ancient world buildings and perfecting them into this 16’ wide family chapel. As seen from the image provided (2), many ancient design ideas were altered to what is believed to be perfect for this time period.  Unlike Greek columns, You will not see writings on these columns.  The use of domes, columns and materials are very similar to  ancient counterparts, but this is not for the public.  It is a sacred, family space for worship.

Times were also about bending the rules to play with alternative ways of designing and even times, such as in the Baroque era, making something look like what is it not. Designing of the landscape was also important during these times; this went hand in hand with the interior design in many places.  Versailles, for instance, went beyond the boundaries with movement through space.  In the Hall of Mirrors, large mirrors were placed opposite of the large windows facing the gardens.  These helped reflect the view, making the space not only look bigger, but also using the natural landscape to help the interior space design.

Alternatives were also found with the colonization of America. Although what typically happened stateside was what was happening in England (3), function becomes greater then style.  Homes had little architectural detail and they were located near water and/or transportation routes for agricultural reasons.  The Spanish had found alternative ways to construct structures by using Adobe because the wood was limited in their areas. The French who settled in the Louisiana territory, generally had 2 storied homes with exterior stairs.  Due to the humidity and climate, they tried to maximize their outdoor living spaces with steeply pitched roofs that extended over the home.  They had few furnishings and in French Canada, they used stone to construct their homes.

Pennsylvania Station Waiting Room

 One building that I find describes this alternatives section quite well is New York’s original Pennsylvania Station built in 1910.  Not only did the Industrial Revolution have a huge impact in the availability of materials, but also Americans found new ways to display the classical detail of arches, colonnades and control of natural light.  This building, which spanned over two blocks in downtown Manhattan, had a center waiting room that was designed after the Baths of Caracalla.  “ the waiting room designed as a great gate to the city, a monumental termination of the long journey, whereas the concourse was a calculated transition from the monumental classical architecture of the waiting room to the 20th century mechanical utilitarianism of the trains themselves” (4).  What an alternative new way to display this design idea!


(1) class notes dated 10/13/10 on Renaissance
(2) picture credits: great buildings online;  
(3) class notes 10/22
(4) Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architecture. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2007 pp. 505-506

Posted in History n Theory

Reading Comprehension 4

According to our Roth book on page 390, Renaissance architects are described as “humanist scholar architects.  they were trained as painters & sculptors and they looked to change the feeling of the crude work of the Goths.  “It was a celebration of human intellectual powers, but was also an architecture that invited pleasurable human responses and once that door to sensory delight had been opened, there was no holding it shut…”

The five artifact examples provided show excellent eamples of Rococo and Early Neo-classical styles.  Neo-clasical interiors, decorateive arts and furniture, according to Harwood page 456, “Maintain the scale, elegance and charm of Rococo, but lines straightenn, curves become geometric instead of free form, and ornament derives from antiquity.”  One similarity between all five of these artifacts, is the importance of curvilenear lines.  Whether it be the simplistic style of the windsor chair with its slight curving in the leg spindles (p. 451 harwood) to the ornate State Bed at Osterly Park, the use of curves (whether slight or exagerated) helps give a more light hearted free-flowing feel to each piece.

The five spaces provided all share a common principle of design; Repetition.  You can see this portrayed in different ways in each space.
In the first space, the Saloon at Holkam Hall (p. 418 Harwood) repetition is seen not only in the coffered ceilings, but also in the wallpaper pattern.
You will also see this in the StairHall in Gunston Hall for picture 2. (page 447, Harwood)  The wall motif repeats itself as you ascend the stairs.
Marie Antoinettes Bedroom (p. 463, Harwood) has quite a few areas showing repetition; the walls as well as the molding detail along the ceiling.
Sahram House Dining Room (p. 495, Harwood) shows this repetition along the swagged order along the ceiling as well as the pattern of the crown molding.  Finally and quite possibly the simplest example of repetition amongst these spaces is seen in the Parlor at Gardner-Pingree House (p. 519 Harwood) with the detail in the crown molding.

Balance is a principle of design that is shown in all five buildings.  Starting with the Chiswick house – from every angle, you see how each side is symmetrical in design.  Drayton Hall, of American Georgian design, has one center entrance on the front facade with equal amounts of windows on each side flanking the entrance.
Nathaniel Russel house is a three story home with each window stacked above one another in three rows in perfect symmetry with a center entrance doorway.  The Pantheon and Monticello also display symmetry with their design.  Showing perfect balance in the entrance way from one side to the other with its center dome in the structure.

Many Eastern coastal cities in the United Stated looked to English prototypes for Architectural influence.. (see ‘The Octagon’ by Wm. Thorton in Washington DC, Harwod p. 512)
Robert Adams was a leading designer in England.  He was born of a scottish architect and traveled to France and Italy to get influenced by great neoclassical designers.  His style can be seen in many cities along the coastal east coast.  The Nathaniel Russell house in Charleston, SC is a prime example of this.


My Palladian floor plan


Architecture and design, without a doubt, stand for theatrical performances in the Baroque time period. it’s about making something look like what it is not.  Water was also very important in this time period to help with the theatrical feel. A perfect image I can take from our class time on 10/13/10, is The Laurentian Library Vestibule by Michaelangelo.  From the image below, you can see the exagurated entrance leading up to the library door, and the detail of the center stairway – it shows a curvy water detail.  All of this is a very theatrical entrance leading up to a less theatrical space of a library.

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Posted in History n Theory


  Learning about architectural history from the ground (foundation) up is the key to understand how different cultures effect each other’s way of life and surroundings.  As the class moves forward into our alternatives section, I am seeing how true my first sentence really is. It is important to have a good foundation before you move forward.

Intellectual foundations are seen as showing what people are doing over time;  how they take and process information previously known and use it accordingly based on, to name a few, their culture and age. Seeing how Egypt effects Greece and how they all effect Rome is something that was very apparent here.  There are a few key terms that show up in all three of these cultures; stacking, hierarchy, organizational, spirituality and story-telling.  Starting from the early settlements, such as  Mesopotamia and the Ohio Valley, stacking of local materials using slaves is seen here to make walls, buildings and burial places.  In Mesopotamia, some of the early cities are found; The Ziggurat of Ur-Nammu is an example.  This building is made out of stone blocks with steps leading up to the top.  Height showing power and closeness to the heavens and materials used representing the physical labor that was needed to built it. Comparing this to the Pyramids of Giza, you will see some similarities.  Both show height and imposing itself onto the landscape, as well as power from the size of the structure.  These structures also tell stories by using hieroglyphics on the exterior.  Since urban planning begins in Egypt (City of Sesotris ii), Axis’ are now established and are even found in modern times.  Vertical axis – using a circle as it’s center, represent the path to the Gods and heavens.  Horizontal axis’ are the pathways for humans to travel.  Taking this forward to Greece, it is easy to see why the center was important in Greek design – they thought that they were the center of the world and Athens became the center of Greece.  Organizational layout becomes clear with the construction of the Acropolis and the way line, form and space is organized within this city.  They have a great command for asymmetrical balance and even portraying some of what we now call the principles of design – repetition, proportion and balance.  Repetition of the columns, proportion of the buildings to each other (also showing hierarchy with size) help move us forward in time to see how these ideas and designs effect Roman culture and design.
The temples in Greece and Egypt are the proto-buildings for Rome – architecture was influenced by many other societies.  Rome was a modern city – a lot like our own civilization and they were concerned with extravagant pleasure.  They introduce some new building types; Baths, Basilica’s, coliseums and markets.  Plumbing was also introduced at this time with the addition of aqueducts.  These buildings helped people congregate (coliseums, baths, markets), celebrate (temples) and meditate (basilica’s).  With these new building types came old construction practices such as stacking, decorative coverings as well as the use of shapes, such as arches.  Arches could be used in markets, where it is laid on the earth’s surface in a semi-circular form giving boundaries, or in Baths which help make the space grander by keeping it more open.  Where the Egyptians and Greeks used hieroglyphics, the Romans used mosaics to tell their story.

I think the best example of architecture that could represent all three of these cultures is the Coliseum in Rome.  The exterior tells a story of what almost appears as the progression of architecture; showing the use of stacking, arches, the different architectural column orders.  On the interior picture, you will see how the space is organized along axial lines and how the floor reminds one of an Egyptian pyramid – is laid out almost like a maze.

Class notes dated 9/8-9/22

Posted in History n Theory

Egypt, Greece and Rome Summary


Egypt established anis’ and used them in the designing of their architecture.  Horizontal axes were the pathways for humans to travel and vertical axes (using circles and columns) brought you closer to the Gods and heaven.
Egyptians used their columns as a way to tell a story and to keep their society alive throughout history.


The Greeks thought they were the center of everything and the center was very important in Greek design.  Since Greece is surrounded on three sides by water, it was very important to their lifestyle and commerce.
In Greece, the Megaron was formed and redesigned over time to create an early temple to put statues in.  Greeks had an organizational theme which included a porch, hearth and court.
The Greeks also had a command for asymmetrical balance and making things appear ideal; where in reality, they weren’t perfect.

    example:  Parthenon had no parallel lines in the structure and the front columns were spaced differently.  It was also placed in a part of the acropolis to show hierarchy, being the largest structure.

Greece was the prototype for Romem and many of the design elements were kept. (ie. Column orders and materials).  The Romans, however, brought in more of a mathematical way of designing and began the grid city patterns.

Posted in History n Theory

[HISTORY & THEORY OF DESIGN II] reading comprehension 2

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[1] Hersey describes a grammar for Greek architectural elements based on the idea of sacrifice. SPECULATE about the validity of his argument based on what you know about Greek design and the evidence (both visual and written) he provides. (5 points)

 The sacrificial process was very important in the Greek culture and was seen as necessary prior to building their temples.  “Greek sacrifice involved the deconstruction and reconstruction of the victim’s body….  It could also involve the construction or reconstruction of the god himself as he presided over his offerings.” (Hershey; Architecture and Sacrifice, p. 16)  In reading the Hershey’s book, I have come to understand the importance of nature and sacrifice in the Greek design.  
•    The Cavetto moldings, (which are common in the bases of columns) were seen as representing the rope, which was tied around the feet of the victim being sacrificed.
•    The sacrificial victim’s feet were bound and tied up like they were game.  This is represented in the statue columns that often had bound feet.
•    The temples were also decorated with the bones of the victims – the head being the most important part – said to contain the most spiritual essence. All bones were considered sacred and were obtained during the rapid cremation process and placed on the altars. 
•    According to Hershey’s reading (Architecture and Sacrifice, p. 14), Vitruvius said that trees were the first columns and they were often decorated with material and gear from the sacrifice victims.  In looking at the picture provided above, The columns are massive and although made of stone, are the shape and size.

[2] Meant in jest, Macaulay shapes a world of the future in which the main character claims meanings for archeological evidence uncovered at the Motel of the Mysteries. EXTRACT what you believe to be the lesson of mis-interpreting evidence and link that lesson to the real world phenomenon of the internet. In other words, EXPLAIN how you might avoid such a blunder as mis-reading evidence when you use the web as your major information source. (5 points)

In reading Macaulay’s excerpt, I am reminded about a phrase that one of my teacher said in my first semester in this program.  “Always keep a beginners mind”.    When I first heard this expression, I did not understand what it meant, but upon further thought, it has become a powerful part of my way of thinking about the things I do, and especially design.
  A beginners mind keeps you in the mindset, when experiencing new things, of being childlike.  Explore, search, ask questions and play to find out if what you are seeing or being told is true.  With the way of the internet now, so many things are available for us to explore and question.  Some people may feel that too much information available is just that – too much.. .But I think having that information available, helps us “keep that beginners mind” and to have the availability to question what we are being told by finding an alternative way.  Researching things we would normally not be exposed to is a key advantage to the internet and one of the ways you could avoid mis-reading evidence.

[3] The funerary temple design of Queen Hatshepsut speaks a very different design language than the pyramidal forms for other pharaohs. From your readings and the ideas addressed in class, RECOUNT possible reasons why Queen Hatshepsut used this building form. (5 points)
It was a life’s mission of a Pharaoh to build the largest burial site for them, being the pyramid. Pyramids are considered to be one of the most basic structures (class notes 9/8/10) but it was designed to be a type of maze so that the Pharaoh’s belongings couldn’t be stolen. The largest pyramid would represent status and power and it was covered in colorful limestone and at the very top, was a gold topper.  These Pharaohs believed they were the center of the universe and that the lines of the four corners of their pyramid would reach the four corners of the earth.  Pharaohs were involved in their design and build process and placed their pyramids in a way to stand out in their surroundings. Since they were built while the Pharaoh was still living, as soon as he died, he was placed with his belongings in the underground chamber to then pass on to his next life in the ‘afterlife’.

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut was built after she had passed and once completed years later, she was then laid to rest.  According to our class notes and lecture on 9/8/10, it is believed that she may have had a say in how her temple was designed, but one cannot be sure. 

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In the picture to the left You will notice the central stairway leading up to the colonnade, which gives a more inviting feel.  This burial temple took advantage of the natural landscape, and although covered in hieroglyphics like the pyramids, there is nothing overly extravagant about this feminine structure.  According to Roth, pg. 202-203, “building a temple-tomb at the base of a cliff – and, even more, the raising of a huge artificial stone mountain over one’s tomb – simply advertised where the treasure was stored.”  Eventually most of the royal tombs after this were buried dug into the cliffs to give it more security. 

[4] Although some evidence suggests links between the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, and some building forms and details provide support for that linkage, the two societies produced design responses in great contrast to one another. Select a building type (house, tomb, or temple) from each culture and ELUCIDATE similarities and differences in the two forms over time. Provide an annotated illustration for each selected type. (5 points)

Temples in the Egyptian and Grecian society were an important public structure.  In Egypt, temples were the center of government administration, scientific and medical study and agricultural administration. Large temples included schools, universities, libraries and archives and were the center of government administration, scientific and medical study and agricultural administration. (roth pp205-206)  Egyptians also used their temples for very theatrical religious festivals.  Urban planning also began with the Egyptians and they used different axes to plan out the placement of their temples.

Greek temples also held an important public function but were not your typical public building.  Only priests and certain selected individuals were able to enter it.  The public often celebrated rituals at the altar, in front of the temple.  The exterior was also paid much attention to the artistic nature of it and said to be a monumental structure set within the landscape.
The Greeks made no effort to have any of the buildings aligned along an axis.  They adjusted the topography to the site, and occasionally aligned the temples on an axes leading out to the mountain peaks in the landscape.  (roth page 230)

[5] Harwood shows examples of Egyptian furniture on pp. 60-61. HYPOTHESIZE about the lightweight nature of Egyptian furniture when compared to tomb architecture, as at the Pyramids of Giza, which many characterize as massive and heavy. (5 points)
The Egyptian furniture shown on pages 60-61 show simple pieces, many from King Tut’s tomb, made out of wood as well as more ornate wood pieces overlaid with gold and silver foil with some inlay.  One quality these items all share, are that they are a fairly minimally sized pieces.  Once he died and was placed in the tomb, his belongings were also included with him. The Egyptians believed that you needed your things when you passed over to your next life. (Being the afterlife)  Because of the status of King Tut, much of his furniture had carved detail, such as his throne and small chest.
The tomb design, or pyramid, was meant to show status and power on a different scale.  A Pharaohs’ life’s goal was to build the grandest burial tomb.  Because of the size, the stone used to build this tomb needed to be large, and they needed to be stacked on top of the other to reach the height desired for the appropriate status. Size matters here, resulting in a powerful, strong and imposing pyramid. 

[6] Based on a careful reading of the visual evidence in these two images, DRAW OUT an explanation of design and gender roles as you see both depicted. As this language of urns represents essentially one of the main ways we know about Grecian culture, COMMENT on the validity of such a practice of reading evidence. (5 points)

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Grecian culture portrayed more equality in their male and female gods, although the Grecian women lived a life of seritude.  This is portrayed in both of these urns, as women serving their leaders, being men.  These men are both seated on their “throne” and surrounded by a number of different natural objects.  You will notice the depiction of the animals and leaves.  The lion’s skin on the black and white urn, as well as the bird on the staf.  Hunting was also depicted here by the use of the swords and the animals – these items represented power and wealth.
Nature is very sacred to their society – they saw trees as being most sacred (sometimes even more so then the temples they stood for) and the use of the leaf material around the tops of both urns represent that sacred aspect.  Urns are also used to help in offerings.  The offering up to the gods was a ritual that was very important to their society.

Posted in History n Theory

Reading Comprehension IAR 222-01

Select an object or a building from any time period that you believe meets Wotton’s definition (as cribbed from Vitruvius) of commodity, firmness, and delight. With an annotated image, take care to EXPLAIN the ways in which you see the definition realized through the object or building. Use design language and concepts discussed in class for dealing with precedents (5 points).


“ In Architecture, as in all operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The enbd is to build well.  Well building hath three conditions… Commodity, Firmness and Delight.”  – Sir Henry Wotton – The Elements of Architecture.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II in Milan, Italy was completed in 1877.  This is a Neo-classical covered shopping mall with masonry buildings and iron and glass arcades.  As mentioned in our Harwood book on page 10, Due to new transportation options during the Industrial Revolution, there were many new materials available for construction and the use of steel was used beautifully in this structure.
 When I read the quote from Wotton above, I immediately thought of Galleria Vittorio and how his words can relate to this building and I can break it down this way…
Commodity – the function of the space.  It refers to design that is functional in a good way.  Galleria Vittorio is a covered mall with many shops and restaurants in this urban setting.  What I appreciate about the design of this space is that it is conducive to shopping in all seasons and all types of weather.  One can stroll down the street sipping a cappuccino in the rain without getting wet.  The arcades form a crucifix pattern with a central gathering area that promotes community.  There are concerts that are performed, social events and other community functions in addition to the shopping and dining., This space is divided up into ‘indoor streets’ that can be multifunctional simultaneously, offering more options for activities for people.
Firmness – is the building structurally sound.  As I previously mentioned, this structure is made of masonry, iron and glass.  The multi-story masonry buildings tower over the streets and create a definition of space that is so strong, it gives the sense of security.  The fact that you can see the iron frame structural ceiling also creates the sense of being protected by heavy materials, all the while having the glass create this more open feel.  All of these materials together are an excellent example of creating a building of firmness.
Delight, also thought of as Beauty.  Beauty is influenced by many things, such as culture, language and age.  It is obviously different for everyone since we are not all a cookie cutter of eachother with our likes and dislikes, but I feel that this space is extremely beautiful.  I am very sunlight driven and love the sense of openness this space creates. The iron exposed ceiling frame is an exciting addition that merges the old (masonry) and the new (iron).


Working from Harwood et al’s concept of cultural precedents, select one of the contemporary textiles illustrated above and PINPOINT the influences you see from the eastern world on the production of fabric in the west. Concentrate on motifs and patterns provided in Harwood’s text (5 points).

According to Harwood’s 18th century design history book (pg. 17), “Unity, harmony and balance govern Chinese art and Architecture…. The laws of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water govern relationships in the natural environment.”
The fabric to the right is an eastern influenced textile and some of the five elements listed above are represented, as well as naturalistic motif’s.  With the Peonies representing the earth and the lace patterns giving the feel of water and fluidity, it feels balanced and definitely harmonious.  Design, art and architecture of China and Japan have long influenced the western world as far back as classical Rome. (Harwood 18th c. pg. 15)  One would tend to believe that because of the many different cultures coming to live in the western world,  the need to bring different styles of fabrics that are familiar to the people would be an important, profitable one for manufacturers.


When considering perceptions of personal and social space, Hall and others suggest that different cultures have different space needs and attitudes. Most consider that citizens of the U.S. generally feel a need for more space. How does this play out in the classroom in which we gather for iar222? (5 points)

It is no surprise that in the United States, the trends have shown that “bigger appears to be better” when it comes to not only meal sizes, cars or quantity of “things”, but also architecture.  According to class lecture on 8/23, the average size house in 1970 was approx. 1800 sq. feet.  Today, the average size house in the United States is 3150.  It is not because people are having more children and need more space… People tend to like their “stuff”.  Currently, large open spaces in design seem to be popular and make them multi-functional.  As far as the room in which we gather for class (ferg 100), this room is set up as an auditorium.  There is a stage in the front of the room with a large projection screen and many seats for viewing.  It reminds me of an elementary auditorium.  This room is more space then we need and it puzzles me as to why we gather here for class.  The space is a poor design for what we need.  The walls are curved, which does not help project student’s voices well from one side of the room to the other.  What we have is not enough space, it is too much space and it is not laid out well for what we need.  Chairs are too small and too close together, in addition to their being a lack of legroom.  For a class such as this, the room would work better to remove all of the chairs and either have large couches or long tables and chairs where people could spread out.  I personally would welcome the ability to view some pictures in textbooks while lecture is going on so that I could visually relate more to the spaces being discussed.

SPECULATE about whether or not there can be an architecture of happiness, as de Botton writes in the work by the same title. Provide a juicy quote that helps give evidence to your views from the passage that you read. Include an annotated image of a happy object, space, building, or place and specify WHY and HOW your example exudes happiness (5 points)

“Architecture asks us to imagine that happiness might often have an unostentatious, unheroic character to it, that it might be found in a run of old floorboards or in a wash of morning light over a plaster wall….”
I love this quote from de Botton’s book, “the Architecture of Happiness”, as it goes to show that architecture is not only about the structure itself… it is about what you experience in the space and explains why I passionately feel that there is an architecture of happiness.  I experience it daily when I walk home from school and see varied styles of architecture; walking into my own home which was built in the 1920’s and experiencing the 8” floor moldings and period details that were common at the time and in this area.  The amount of windows in a space to shed light on the little details yet to be found. The more you look, the more you find.  I am fascinated by details, so I am instantly happy when I experience an interesting space.  One the other end of the spectrum, I find that I am swayed by color too.  If a space is a color that is not pleasing to me, then I am not as creative, inspired or happy.
When I read the quote above while reading the excerpt in the book, I immediately thought of a home I saw a few years ago while visiting Rhinebeck, NY.  It is an impeccably restored 1875 second empire home.  I am fascinated by the attention to detail in its restoration and imagine how the tall first floor windows affect the interior space.  What materials they used; is the interior restored and does it stay true to the period?  All of these things give me hours and hours of enjoyment.  Now, I know that what is beautiful for one, is not necessarily beautiful for the other.  I love older historic structures while others enjoy more modern styles.  Architecture as Happiness is subjective. It is influenced by things such as culture, age and time period.