architecture

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

On October 20, 1973, the Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It is identified as one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in a modern expressionist design, it features a series of large precast concrete roof “shells”, each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius. An International Design Contest Planning for the opera house started in the 1940s…
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Giovanni Battista Piranesi and the Art of Etching

Giovanni Battista Piranesi and the Art of Etching

On October 4, 1720, Italian Classical archaeologist, architect, and artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi was born. Piranesi is famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric “prisons” (Le Carceri d’Invenzione). Giovanni Battista Piranesi – Family Background Piranesi was born in Venice. He was the son of a stonemason who also worked as a construction manager. The first written document about Giovanni Battista Piranesi is his entry in the baptismal register of…
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Filippo Brunelleschi – the first modern Engineer

Filippo Brunelleschi – the first modern Engineer

On April 15, 1446, Italian Renaissance architect, designer, sculptor, and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi passed away. He is considered to be a founding father of Renaissance architecture and is now recognized to be the first modern engineer. In 1421, Brunelleschi became the first person to receive a patent in the Western world. He is most famous for designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral. Filippo Brunelleschi – Early Years Filippo Brunelleschi was the…
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Abbot Suger and the Birth of the Gothic Style

Abbot Suger and the Birth of the Gothic Style

On January 13, 1151, French abbot, statesman, historian and one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture, Suger passed away. The eastern end of the Basilica Church of St. Denis, built by Abbot Suger and completed in 1144, is often cited as the first truly Gothic building, as it draws together many of architectural forms which had evolved from Romanesque and typify the Gothic style. “The new chevet being joined to the narthex,…
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Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

On July 21, 356 BC, Herostratus, in an attempt to immortalise his name, set fire to the to the wooden roof-beams of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name. Eversince this time, the term “Herostratic fame” relates to Herostratus and means, roughly, “fame at any cost”. The Temple of Artemis Modern archaeologist…
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Von Knobelsdorff and the Sanssouci Palace

Von Knobelsdorff and the Sanssouci Palace

On February 17, 1699, Prussian painter and architect Hans Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff was born. Influenced as an architect by French Baroque Classicism and by Palladian architecture, with his interior design and the backing of king Frederick the Great, he created the basis for the Frederician Rococo style. Von Knobelsdorff is best known as architect of Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam just outside Berlin for Frederick the Great. Actually, I lived in the direct…
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Andrea Palladio and the Rules of Harmony

Andrea Palladio and the Rules of Harmony

On November 30, 1508, Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio was born. Influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily Vitruvius, Palladio is widely considered to be one of the most influential individuals in the history of architecture. “Beauty will result from the form and correspondence of the whole, with respect to the several parts, of the parts with regard to each other, and of these again to the whole; that the structure may appear…
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Squire Whipple – The Father of the Iron Bridge

Squire Whipple – The Father of the Iron Bridge

On September 16, 1804, US-American civil engineer Squire Whipple was born. He who provided the first scientifically based rules for bridge construction and has become known as the father of iron bridge building in America. The Civil Engineer Squire Whipple was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, in 1804 the son of a farmer. He was exposed to construction sites and materials from early age, since his father designed, built and ran a cotton-spinning…
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El Escorial – The World’s largest Renaissance Building

El Escorial – The World’s largest Renaissance Building

On September 13, 1584, the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometers northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid, is finished. El Escorial is the world largest Renaissance building. The Rubble Heap After Philip II of Spain defeated the French King Henry II in the Battle of Saint-Quentin on August 10, 1557, the feast of St. Lawrence (Spanish: San Lorenzo), he vowed to build a monastery in honor of…
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Louis Henry Sullivan – the ‘Father’ of the Skyscaper

Louis Henry Sullivan – the ‘Father’ of the Skyscaper

On September 3, 1856, American architect Louis Henry Sullivan was born. Sullivan is identified with the aesthetics and innovation of early skyscraper design. He is also often referred to as  the “Father of Modernism”. “No complete architecture has yet appeared in the history of the world because men, in this form of art alone, have obstinately sought to express themselves solely in terms either of the head or of the heart.” –…
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