My first discovery of classical architecture was made the moment I stepped outside my apartment, as my building has two Doric columns framing the front door. As I meandered over the hill and across the Common I realized exactly how prevalent classical architecture really is. Elements of classical architecture can be found on almost every building in the old residential neighborhoods and many commercial buildings feature columns and arches as well.
I saw all three orders of columns, arches, and even a dome. The only architectural element I was unable to find was a iron vault. The Massachusetts State House, about half a block from my apartment, has many examples of classical architecture including a large gold dome, twelve Corinthian columns, and seven arches visible from outside. The State House, which houses the state legislature and the governor’s offices, was built in 1798 by leading architect of the time Charles Bullfinch.
The dome was originally made out of wood shingles but has since been sheathed in copper and covered in 23 karat gold. (http:// www. Satisfaction. Gob/formalities/mischievousness’s. Asp) As far as I observed he arches and columns follow the rules of the classical orders except that the frieze above the columns is blank. I’m not sure if the frieze above Corinthian columns is traditionally blank or not. A pioneer, which signifies the importance of the logging industry in Massachusetts, tops the dome. Http://www. Satisfaction. Gob/formalities/ mischievousness’s. Asp) I doubt this would be found on domes of the ancient world. Just as classical architecture was meant to convey power and grace in Ancient Greece and Rome, I’m sure Charles Bullfinch used elements are classical architecture n the design of the State House for the purpose of conveying the wealth, power, and beauty of the government and state of Massachusetts. Another building that incorporates classical elements is the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
The current MFC building was built in 1909. There are rows of ionic columns and construction that looks like post-and-lintel. In the area that would be the frieze it says “Museum of Fine Arts” which could probably be loosely considered a continuous frieze. It was especially interesting to me to see the post-and-lintel type openings since most alluding seem to prefer the Roman’s arches over the Ancient Greek post-and-lintel system. The Museum of Fine Art is another building that, due to its purpose, should convey an air of greatness.
The last building I would like to use as an example is my apartment building, which was built in 1909. There are likely hundreds of residential apartment buildings in the area whose doors are flanked by a column on each side, particularly the apartments that were built in the early sass. The columns of my apartment building are of the Doric order but the abacus of each is rounded, not angular. (Strickland pig 15) There is a session but no cornice, pediment, or any other aspect of the Doric order. At night the columns are illuminated.
It is clear by the emphasis the building management places on the columned entrance that they believe it to denote a sense of wealth, greatness, or class. While the State House and MFC certainly do this, I find my building does not quite succeed. It feels that without any other of the classical elements the columns are lacking. T is particularly interesting to me now long classical architecture NAS been in style. It as been used for centuries on everything from prominent government buildings to much more humble residences.
Architecture that was once reserved for temples and important public spaces can now be found on everything from strip malls to pharmacies. An important difference in the use of the classical architectural elements is that Ancient Greeks built in their style partly for the logical purpose of creating a building that will stand. Today, even more so than in Ancient Rome, many aspects of the architecture are purely ornamental. Http:// consistory. Schenectady. Org/temple-of-portentous. HTML