Andrea Palladio Comes to America

Topics: Palladian architecture, Andrea Palladio, Thomas Jefferson Pages: 5 (1682 words) Published: September 10, 2008
Andrea Palladio was an influential architect during the Late Renaissance and the Baroque period. He was a dominant figure in this field, not only of his lifetime, not just in the lifetime of those who knew him, but now – 400 years later (Source 2). Palladio’s architecture was based on symmetry, perspective, and proportions. His architectural style became known as Palladianism. Palladian Architecture is seen through out America today. Thomas Jefferson appreciated the architectural concepts of Palladio, and his designs for The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, Monticello Estate, the James Barbour Barboursville estate, and the University of Virginia, were based on drawings from Palladio’s book. Other modern-day American architecture influenced by Andrea Palladio are the Hammond-Harwood House and Drayton Hall. Palladianism can be described as Palladio’s interpretation of classical architecture. It began in the 17th century and developed until the end of the 18th century. Palladianism was popular in Britain for a short period and when it began to fall out of favor in Europe it became popular in North America, prominently in buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson. The style continued to be popular through the 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe, where it frequently employed in the design of public and municipal buildings. From the latter half of the 19th century it was rivaled by the Gothic Revival, whose champions, such as Augustus Pugin, remembering the ancient temple roots of the style, deemed it too pagan for Protestant and Anglo-Catholic worship. However, as an architectural style it has continued to be, not only popular, but too evolve - its pediments, symmetry and proportions clearly evident in the design of many modern buildings today (Source 3). In Palladio's architectural treatises he followed the principles defined by the Roman architect Vitruvius and his 15th-century disciple Leon Battista Alberti, who adhered to principles of classical Roman architecture based on mathematical proportions rather than the rich ornamental style also characteristic of the Renaissance (Source 3). Palladio also took into account where his villa would be located. If it was on a hill he designed facades to be of equal value so fine views could be seen in all directions. Most of his villa’s were located in the countryside so he designed them with porticos on all sides so that the countryside could be appreciated by the occupants while being protected from the harsh elements such as the sun. Portico’s are known as porches in modern day America. Palladio would often model his villa elevations on Roman temple facades. The temple influence, often in a cruciform design, later became a trademark of his work (Source 3). Palladian villas are usually built with three floors: a basement or ground floor, containing the service and minor rooms. Above this, the piano nobile accessed through a portico reached by a flight of external steps, containing the principal reception and bedrooms, and above it is a low mezzanine floor with secondary bedrooms and accommodation (Source 3). The proportions of each room within the villa were calculated on simple mathematical ratios like 3:4 and 4:5, and the different rooms within the house were interrelated by these ratios. Earlier architects had used these formulas for balancing a single symmetrical facade; however, Palladio's designs related to the whole, usually square, villa (Source 3). Another trademark of Palladio’s was the Palladian Window. It consists of a central light with semicircular arch over, carried on an impost consisting of a small entablature, under which, and enclosing two other lights, one on each side, are pilasters (Source 3). Palladio's influence in North America is evident almost from the beginning of architect designed building there. The amateur architect Thomas Jefferson once referred to Palladio's "I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura" as his bible. Jefferson acquired an intense...
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