Monday 11/12- Andrew

This Monday our class was visited by professor Richard Powers. He is a very intelligent man and I enjoyed his well organized presentation of architecture. As a native New Yorker, architecture is a huge part of our culture. Manhattan is home to some of the worlds finest architectural achievements such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Prof. Powers informed us that architecture is meant to capture the ethnos, or culture, of a society. Beginning the discussion with the Parthenon, the ruins of which stand in Greece. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Athena, and the architecture is said to symbolize reason, intelligence, and power in Western society. It is an instantly recognizable structure by its great pillars and rectangular structure. It was interesting to learn that the US capitol building was constructed with inspiration from ancient Greek architecture, and that both buildings were meant to symbolize similar ideals.

Some of my favorite structures I observed during the presentation were of design by Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a breakthrough architect who inspired and awed many with his work. I really liked “Falling Water”. It is a beautiful home set in nature and represents humanity’s ability to become one with nature. Another favorite of mine is his own personal home and studio. It is mainly dark colors and to me has somewhat of a modern gothic appeal to it.

It was interesting to learn some people’s opinions that the twin towers were obtrusive  structures, and that they created disharmony in the New York skyline. Personally I thought they were beautiful buildings and symbolized New York’s social, cultural, and financial prominence in the world. Losing the towers was New York’s most severe tragedy, but I am happy to see they are finally replaced by the Freedom Tower. This new beautiful building is now an icon of New York’s resilience  and unity.

11/12/2012 – Shumaila

On Monday, professor Richard Powers delivered a talk on architectural history. I had never really thought about how buildings actually capture the cultures of society and the time period when it was constructed during.  Professor Powers mentioned “Parthenon”, which was an iconic building of western civilization. The Parthenon was the center of society at the top of an acropolis that symbolized intellect.

I was especially interested when I learned that the US capitol building was built with ancient civilizations as an inspiration. The building modeled famous architectures of past successful powerful civilizations. I was also shocked to learn that the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park are considered the greatest buildings of New York City.

It’s interesting to learn, because they are not even categorized as real buildings. However, they are the best places that capture the essence of New York better than many other places.  Also, many buildings in the south were actually modeled after Greek civilization. We learned that this was because the Greeks successfully ran a system of slavery for centuries. The southern states in America often considered this to be a model of what America should be like.

Our class with Professor Powers was quite interesting. It has definitely reformed the way I look at architecture on a day-to-day basis. I feel that now when I look around, I wont just see the buildings, but I’ll wonder why or how their designs came to be. I feel that I’ve gained insight on a topic that I would have never thought much about had it not been for my seminar class.

~Architecture 11/12/12~Naomi~

Monday in Seminar, Professor Powers come to our class to discuss architecture, and the various ways in which it has reflected the values of society.  I found it interesting that he described architecture as trying to provide a context for the life that will go on in and around the structure.  I can relate this lecture to my high school.  I went to Curtis High School which is the oldest public high school on Staten Island.  Built in 1904, the building was constructed in a Neo Gothic style with gargoyles and pointed arcs throughout the structure.  In my Theory of Knowledge course in high school we took tours of the building and examined the various architectural features which were present and what their purpose was when the building was first constructed. An example of this would be the blank scrolls which the gargoyles hold on the top of the building.  These slates were said to represent the blank minds which students will fill with the knowledge they acquire at school.  Another interesting feature of my high school is the double staircases.  Apparently in 1904 boys and girls were not allowed to walk in the same staircases, so the builders constructed a male and female staircase.  In recent years these wrapping staircases serve a different purpose.  Due to overpopulation, these staircases help ease the traffic between classes.

I enjoyed going to a high school with so much history in its architecture.  My grandparents attended Curtis in the 1940s and I truly felt as if I was walking through history when I walked the halls of my alma mater.  When I made the decision to attend CSI I mourned the arched passageways and stone engravings which I had become accustomed to during my  high school years.  Nevertheless, Monday’s seminar class allowed me to realize the beauty in the architecture of CSI.

I look forward to studying more architecture and observing the various features present in the buildings of NYC.




Today Professor Richard Powers came to speak to us about architecture. Although I didn’t understand a lot of his jokes, I think he gave us a very interesting and informative presentation about architecture.

One of the main points of his lecture was that architecture embodies the “ethnos,” or culture, of society. He showed us different examples of this throughout history. For instance, he showed us some early American buildings were modeled after Greek and Roman architecture. I was aware of this before the lecture, but what I did not know was the meaning behind this. Professor Powers explained to us that by modeling Greek and Roman architecture, the founding fathers showed that they wanted to impose order with their architecture.

Professor Powers explained to us that modern architecture is shifting away from focusing on historical revivals and is being geared towards engineering ideas. A lot of skyscrapers were constructed to anchor blimps, which was something I had no idea about until now. Skyscrapers are also modeled after rockets, like the Chrysler building, which makes sense because a lot were constructed during the time when humanity was focused on expanding its horizons and traveling to outer space. He also explained to us that a lot of buildings want to give different impressions. For instance, the architect of the George Washington Bridge wanted to evoke a sense of honesty, because every part of the bridge serves its own purpose. He talked about different types of architecture and their influences, such as gothic architecture, which is a symbol of religion.

Out of all the buildings that he showed us, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” was my favorite. This building is beautiful, and I like his idea that we can find refuge in nature, because I love nature and would like to have a home close to nature in the future.


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 the 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.


This past Monday, we were lucky to have Professor Powers speak to us in Seminar class.  He came in the room with a motorcycle helmet, riding boots, and an extensive knowledge of architecture.  I have never taken an architecture class before, and so I was really interested in learning about how the architecture in a society can be a symbol of its ethos; the type of buildings themselves can provide a context and frame for the lifestyles of the society.  For example, Athena was a symbol of intellect and reason, and so the repeated columns of the Parthenon shed light on the peoples’ interest in order in the world.  Therefore, it makes sense that the US capitol would be built with this ancient civilization as its inspiration.  With its tall, white, repeated columns, the capitol building becomes a symbol of order and rationalness.  The building itself lets us know about the type of country the founding fathers wanted to have.  I remember going to Washington DC with my eighth grade class and feeling awe when walking into the capitol building.  The walls were blindingly white and the columns towered over us, and I am glad that I now know the reason for this.  The building itself provided the feeling of justice, order and power.

Corinna 11-12-12

During Monday’s seminar class, Professor Powers came in to talk to us about architecture.  I was looking forward to it because, unlike what we usually cover, I thought I actually had some prior knowledge and experience with what we would be discussing.  For a long time, I had a dream of becoming an architect.  I even took some architecture and design class in high school.  To my surprise however, what Professor Powers discussed in his presentation was actually new to me.  In the classes I took it was more about how to draw to scale or make floor plans, but Professor Powers actually went into detail about why certain buildings were built the way that they were.  I found this to be very interesting, and even loved how he brought together history and architecture into his presentation.  I would never have connected the gothic style of schools, and gothic revival in general, to the rise of romanticism. Irrational and sentimental are great words to describe this period, and because of this, it comes as no surprise that Christianity was beginning to be tied into America.  When taking this into consideration, the fact that all these schools were being designed in a style that symbolizes religion, during this time period, makes perfect sense.

Overall, Professor Powers helped me change the way I look at architecture. I have seen many of the building and bridges he talked to us about, however I never really gave much thought to why they were built the way they were.  I also never knew that buildings that serve the same purposes, such as banks, are usually designed with the same style.  I often find myself looking at all the buildings I pass more closely now, which definitely makes my traveling experience more enjoyable.

Seminar Class 11/12/12

On monday, we had a guest speaker come into class. Our guest speaker was Professor Richard Powers and he discussed his knowledge and love for architecture. I never really paid attention to the architecture of many famous buildings before. However, Professor Powers made me realize that architecture is more than just the design of the building.

One piece of architecture that I particularly enjoyed was the Parthenon. The Parthenon is one of the most famous,if not the most famous, buildings in Greece. It was a temple dedicated to the greek goddess Athena. Professor Powers said that was the tallest building compared to the surrounding buildings. The Parthenon is especially famous for its columns. The usage of columns in architecture was widely used by the ancient greeks and has become a great symbol of greek architecture.

Professor Powers also discussed how greek and roman architecture have been the basis and models for architecture in the United States. For example, many of the first forms of buildings in america included columns. One type of building in which columns were greatly used were banks. In fact, many banks in America resemble the Parthenon because they have similar architecture.

When Professor Powers discussed the different forms of architecture, he pointed out many forms that I never realized were actually considered “architecture.” For example, he said that Central Park in Manhattan was considered to be one of New York’s greatest forms of architecture. This surprised me because I always considered a form of architecture to include some sort of building. However, this does not always occur. Central Park is still a designed park with many great structures that make it so amazing for all people to enjoy.

I really enjoyed Professor Powers’ discussion. Architecture was never something that I really paid attention to. Now I realize how amazing it is to analyze a building’s structure and why it was built that certain way.


Today, Professor Powers visited our class. He talked to us about architecture, which I never really considered a form of art until now. He was so excited to talk to us about architecture and it’s really nice to see someone so passionate about something. The quote, which opened the lecture, made me start thinking about architecture in a different way, “Architecture is a symbol of the ethos (a framework of what the ruler/builder thinks about the building and the people)…” I never thought of architecture as representing the thoughts and feelings of that time. This is where I see a correlation with music and art.

Before the lecture, I thought buildings like courthouses and federal buildings looked similar so that they would be easily recognizable to people like immigrants. I never really considered that the style, Greek and Roman, symbolized reason and balance. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it became so widespread that similar styles were used not only to evoke a certain ethos but also to aid in recognition.

I also find it interesting that the Gothic style symbolizes religion. The Gothic style of schools makes sense to me because during the Romanticism era when there was a gothic style revival, people began to question things and become more about the individual. It seems ironic to me that churches would be built in this kind of style especially when this is a time when people began questioning religion. The only thing I was able to rationalize why churches were built in this style was because of the towers and spires reaching up into the sky toward heaven. Again, I think that this type of style also became an archetype for immigrants to be able to identify churches.

-Amber G.

November 12, 2012

In seminar on Monday, Professor Richard Powers came in to discuss the architecture in New York City. Professor Powers described architecture as “the context for the life and business that will be conducted in and around the building.” This is also known as the “ethnos.” His first example really brought this point to life. The Parthenon is an iconic building of Eastern Civilization dedicated to Athena, the Greek goddess of reason. The building is supposed to symbolize the power of intellect and it’s “rising up and towering over nature.” However, if you take that same building and reconstruct it in another place, such as Nashville, Tennessee, its meaning and focus will change.

Another building example that I found interesting is Cass Gilbert’s Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. I have passed this building many of times in Manhattan, but I never took the time to actually stop and examine what I was rushing past. The Customs House was built in Beaux-arts style and is both an engineering and architectural marvel. In 1979, the building was marked to be demolished, but with the help of a US senator, the building was cleaned out and its interiors were redesigned, making it a national landmark. Today, this building is the home of the Museum of the Native American Indian, as well as a valuable office real estate.

While it isn’t an actual building per say, Central Park is the greatest architectural and engineering marvel in all of Manhattan, in my opinion. The park was designed and built in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in Beaux-arts style, even though it is largely romantic. The park contains approximately 843 acres and includes several bodies of water, many running trails and so much more. The most awesome thing about this construction is that everything is man made! Back in the time that the park was built, most commoners did not have time to enjoy its lavishness. It was mainly an attraction for wealthy New Yorkers who wanted to have a return to nature and take a break from the big city.

Finally, in the 1930’s, skyscrapers crept their way into the NYC skyline. The first of these building to be constructed was the Chrysler Building. It was constructed and designed by William Van Allen in Art Deco style, with streamlined shapes inspired by our boats, cars and planes. It was also a gentle shift from the historic revivals that inspired most other architects of the time. It was completely original. No one was really ready for what these buildings could or would look like.

As people came to like this business-esque Art Deco style, more and more buildings were built following it. For example, The Empire State Building, designed by William Lamb, applied this same style. Once again, there were black and white trimmings around the windows and dark granite marble- like interiors. It was supposed to symbolize modern life– fast and unsentimental. In addition, it embraced capitalism, showing people what capitalism can do for such a great city, such as Manhattan Island.