‘Classical’ architecture is a language that speaks to us with antiquity. The Exam Hall, once Theatre, on the campus of Trinity College Dublin can be viewed as a neo-classical building, built during the Georgian era. Neo-classical architecture is the revival of Greek and Roman classicism that took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This revival of architecture as James Adams, a famous English architect said, “was ready to seize with some degree of success, the beautiful spirit of antiquity,” which is quintessentially seen in the Exam Hall. The exterior of the Exam Hall displays classical semblances of the Roman Corinthian Order while the interior is decorated using a classical color pallet and style. This paper will explore the reasons why Trinity College Dublin’s Exam Hall, being a neo-classical building, can be measured ‘classical’. The Exam Hall’s architectural structure and decorations derive purely from the world of classicism with minor exceptions. This predominance of classicism is why the Exam Hall is justifiably ‘classical’.
Sir William Chambers was the visionary of the Exam Hall though he did not see through its construction. He became fascinated in the revival of classicism through his study of architecture in Italy. Chamber’s design for the Exam Hall resembled some of his other works that can be seen in Ireland. One such building precedent to the Exam Hall is the Casino at Marino. Casino at Marino was commissioned by Sir William Chambers in 1773 and is “acknowledged as the most important neo-classical building in Ireland.” The columns, overall symmetry, as well as a portico are a few key classical motifs the two buildings have in common. The Royal Exchange building, now Dublin’s City Hall, designed by Thomas Cooley in 1769 is the spitting image of Trinity College Dublin’s Exam Hall. The Royal Exchange building “was the first neo-classical public building in Dublin and ‘acted as a manifesto for the new style’.” Both...
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