Professor Powers’ Lecture

In Monday’s Seminar class, we listened to a lecture from Professor Powers about architecture. I never knew that something such as a building that I perceived to be so simple could have so much meaning behind it. He prefaced his discussion by explaining that Architecture represents theĀ Ethnos, which is the whole culture of society. In the Neoclassical period, buildings usually represented order and reason. The Parthenon towered over every other building around it, representing reason rising up above all, just as the Monticello stood on a mountain above all other buildings. The Massachusetts State House gave the idea that the founding fathers were imposing order and reason to all around them. The Federal Hall was the Greek side of the Neoclassical period, and it was rational and powerful.

Romance and emotion were represented by the buildings that emerged during the Gothic Revival Period in the 1850’s. The famous Gothic Arch symbolized religious and romantic ideas, as the towering arch reached to the heavens. In Central Park, almost everything is man-made, symbolizing creativity and romanticism. The famous Woolworth building was made to look like an extremely tall Gothic Church. Rockefeller Center was made with no frills to put priority on maximizing profit. There is a lot more that goes into making a building than I ever realized.