11/12/12 – Professor Powers Discussion on Architecture

Today’s seminar class was a little different because we had a guest speaker come in and give a presentation of the architecture and culture of New York. His name was Professor Richard Powers and he explained that architecture tries to provide a context for the life that will go in and around various buildings. Some scholars call architecture a symbol of the “ethnos.” Professor Powers talked about numerous building all over the world, but in my blog I will only be discussing the ones I felt were important or relatable.

The first building we looked at was the Parthenon: (447-438 BC), which was an iconic building of Western civilization. It is a symbol of the intellectual power and relates to the idea of reason rising up above nature, in this particular case, it infers Greece. It’s not a building symbolizing Romanticism or a Gothic Castle

The next building we examined was Monticello, which is a Roman type structure (1772), and imposes a feeling that the mind can gaze over and impose such order. Along with that came, Federal Style Massachusetts State House, 1798, giving the idea that the Founding Fathers were enlightenment figures. Following the State House is a new form of architecture called Georgian, which was used in St. Paul’s Chapel, Thomas McBean (1776). This structure is very symmetrical, and uses a lot trim around the window. The brick and white trimmings make me think of CSI, because they both are constructed in a similar manner. By definition, Georgian means part of the British Empire.

Another building touched upon was the Customs House (1907) by, Cass Gilbert, which is a museum of the American Indian at bowling green. The four “continents” were done in a colonial fashion, in which the whole world was subjected to western civilization. I think it gives a sense that we are living in western civilization that is dominating the world. In the late 1800s, there was a great shift from neoclassical to gothic architecture. For example, Trinity Church (1846) represents this distinct shift. Some properties of gothic style are pointed arches; symbolizing religion, more specifically the rulers were Episcopalian. The gothic architecture is appropriate for schools.

The Ethnos of America is changing and becoming more sentimental, religious based, romantic (gothic), and irrational. Another structure we looked at was the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a completely scientific building. It is made out of all steel and ties into living in a country that still has contacts with its religious roots. However, engineers wants people to know it’s not a break of the past because it is in fact a gothic bridge.

The list of magnificent architecture goes on and on, but I will stop there and start discussing the wonderful performance that Professor Kahan will be performing in tomorrow night at CSI. She will be playing the piano and also be a part of other instrumental performances as well. I am looking forward to witnessing Professor Kahan in her true element. I’m definitely ready to be blown away, to say the least. Today’s class was another side of art that made me think about life and all it has to offer, and moving forward I am excited to attend such a spectacular show tomorrow night.