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scale and architecture

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1996.02.16
gigantism of Boullée
...the gigantism of Boullée, especially in plan and elevation, but some model(s) would also be nice.


1996.02.28
circle/square man in Villa Rotonda
...drawing--the circle/square man laying in the middle of the Villa Rotunda plan.


1996.02.28
"Scale and Proportion"
...relating to the chapters on "Scale and Proportion" in Architectural Composition and just comment on what they offer (perhaps even criticize the lack of anything substantial being said) and do a 3-D rendering of the different stairs depicted. I can then do a comparative perspective taken from a standing vantage point at the foot of the stairs.


1996.02.28
from smallest to largest
...idea of presenting as many Campo Marzio plans as possible in order of size from smallest to largest. Again, I have no idea what the lesson is supposed to be, but I think it will actually show something that has never been seen before. Of course, gigantism will still be the primary object lesson concerning the Campo Marzio, but I might find out that the smallest buildings (crypts, tombs) are even larger than most normal sized buildings.


1996.02.29
changing x, y, and z scales
...the computer capability of changing x, y, and z scales independently of each other. This will purely be a series of examples to show a capability that designers never had before and perhaps there really is no reason for designers to ever use the capability, but I think the results, especially using 3-D models, will demonstrate something about scale. I just realized that what will actually be changing will be the buildings proportions. That suggests an even deeper analysis. In any case, I am going to start with St. Pierre and Dominican Motherhouse, and Hurva Synagogue, and maybe even West Pakistan Parliament and UNEP.


1996.02.29
Michelangelo's horizontal window
...construct a 3-D model of Michelangelo's horizontal window at St. Peter's. I want to compare it in scale to Venturi's Absecon House. This may not lead to anything, however, but if it does, I'm hoping it will shed some light on Venturi's manipulation of scale.


1996.02.29
more data on some Venturi houses
...looking through the Lutyen's volumes and found some designs that are comparable to Venturi's house designs, i.e., a cottage in the kitchen garden at Gledstone Hall has two urns a la the Absecon House, and an elevation from the crypt at Liverpool Cathedral is similar to the funny "Dream House," 1977. There are also similarities between the smaller Lutyen's houses, cottages, Hamsted Court, etc.
...reread some in Complexity and Contradiction on Juxtaposition and Superadjacencies. Venturi does not specifically discuss scale but he does call out many examples of varyingly scaled elements set beside each other within the same architectural composition.

1996.04.17
composite elevation drawings
...completed most of the composite elevation drawings...


1996.04.17
regarding the Altes Museum
"As far as the style of architecture is concerned, my emphasis was on simplicity for the inside as well as the outside. The site of the building, its proximity to both the Royal Palace and the Zeughaus, required a very monumental building. Therefore, I preferred one giant order for the great front columnar hall, rather that two separate expressions for the two main stories. As far as the architectural impression is concerned, the columnar hall primarily relates to the rotunda which measures more than double the height of the two individual stories. This devise relates the height of the hall to the height of the rotunda. The building, surrounded on all sides by either Ionic joists or the Ionic columnar hall with pilasters at the four corners, illustrates through all these parts a simple noble main structure into which the floors are inserted in a subordinate manner."
Karl Friedrick Schinkel, Collection of Architectural Designs (Chicago: Baluster Books Incorporated, 1984), p. 42.


1996.04.17
regarding the Wallraf-Richartz Museum
"Our proposal for the sites north and south of the Hohenzollern bridge is to develop them in a way that will frame and unify the separate monuments of the cathedral, the railway station and the Hohenzollern bridge; to seek integration and find an urban resolution for the railway area--"an urban vacuum a quarter of a century after the war." The new buildings designed for both sites (Breslauer plaza to the north of the railway tracks and Museum plaza to the south) are grouped and massed in deference to the cathedral and in response to the gateway aspect (drawbridge) of the Hohenzollern bridge crossing the Rhine on the axis of the cathedral.
Gateway building (monumental) are positioned on either side of the bridge. Semi-enclosed within these buildings are circular plazas overlooked by museum/river edge related shops. The equestrian statues of Wilhelm II and Friedrich which for many years stood in the open at the approaches to the Hohenzollern Bridge as repositioned in these plazas. The gateway buildings are like civic balconies or city doors overlooking the Rhine; from them ramps incline down to the river promenade and green zone along the river edge.
The 'no man's land" of railway tracks has bee screened visually and acoustically from both Museum plaza and Breslauer plaza by retaining walls which also support elevated footpaths. We have treated the edge of the railway zone like a tree-lined canal bank or river edge. Toward the river edge the height of new buildings increases to be more in scale with that of the bridge; however this is at point further removed from the cathedral."
Extracts from Competition Report in Peter Arnell and Ted Bickford, editors, James Stirling: Buildings and Projects (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1984), p. 207.


1996.04.18
regarding the Hurva Synagogue
Hurva brings up some very interesting scale issues, especially with regard to its "new" use of a double high order (the prayer cells) and its double high porch. This aspect makes the synagogue comparable to the Altes Museum (split elevation, Hurva rotated 450). The prayer cells do make Hurva monumental and it is this exterior monumental scale that reflects and complements the interior monumental space.
Rotating the plan of Hurva 450 also brings to mind a comparison with the Villa Rotunda (stairs in all four direction and a central space surrounded by smaller cells; a plan and elevational split comparison). This comparison brings up the issue of the Greek Cross plan and whether Kahn was merely rotating the Greek Cross 450 when he was conceptualizing the design of Hurva.

1996.04.18
regarding the Museum of Arts and Crafts
Frankfurt brings up a series of scale issues all by itself. First there is the relating of a new building to an existing building, and, thereby perhaps, respecting the "scale" of the existing building. VRSB expanded the new building by conceptually extruding it in one of its four direction. Essentially, VRSB attempted to turn a square cubic building into a long narrow rectilinear building.
Another scale issue is how the rear of the new wing deceptively becomes larger the further the elevation gets from the existing building. This is done both in plan and in 3-D elevational modulation.
Finally, there is the classical porch articulation at the corner of the new wing. The most obvious scale issue is that the "grand entrance" has been brought down to the ground level. Here the obvious comparison is with the Villa Rotunda and the Altes Museum, and the elevational comparison will be made with both the older buildings on their respective plinths and then without their respective plinths. The point could also be made that VRSB employ both a hierarchical and a democratic manifestation of their porch articulation.


1996.04.22
Scale and Architecture
...another book on architecture: Scale and Architecture.
...add Krier's work pertaing to Speer to the Durand chapter.
...man as the measure of all things, Canon of Polyclitus, and then perhaps go to the other extreme of largeness, i.e., things beyond man's measure.


1996.04.23
regarding St. Pierre at Firminy-Vert
Firminy church turned out to be a real surprise in scale, mainly due to its height and great volumetric presence. When viewed in plan, the building seems very small. This calls for a scale comparison with other square plans (Hurva, Tower of Shadows, and the pavilion at Düsseldorf), and a series of drawings where the Firminy church is put into the same comparative contexts, e.g., in place of the pavilion at Düsseldorf, inside the prayer cells at Hurva, and poking out of the center of the Altes Museum. The last composite drawing will make reference to Colin Rowe's connection between the Altes Museum and the Assembly Building at Chandigarh. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that the best way to appreciate the size of this building is to see it within some kind of context. (The initial ambiguity of scale is due, I think, to the smooth edges and pure form of the church itself, along with its general lack of surface articulation and fenestration.)


1996.04.23
regarding the Museum of Knowledge
The Museum of Knowledge addresses the issue of brise-soliel as scale maker for a building, and can thus be compared to the Tower of Shadows and the Frankfurt Museum. The plan of the building is perhaps deceptive in its simplicity, meaning it is a larger space than it seems to be and it would be worthwhile to compare the plan with other plans, starting with the Media plan and the Altes Museum and the Frankfurt plan.
The actual size and scale of the building is more an outgrowth of its position in the Chandigarh complex then it is a product of programmatic requirements. The program itself, a Museum of Knowledge, is ambiguous to begin with, and gives no hint at all as to the size that such a building should be.
...also consider the notion of brise-soliel as building, like a filled out Tower of Shadows.

1996.04.23
regarding the Governor's Palace
The Governor's Palace is no doubt one of the few palaces to be designed in the modern idiom, and no doubt is an elaboration of the modern domestic motif encapsulated by the Villa Savoye. In fact, the Governor's Palace can be seen as stacked versions of the Villa Savoye, and thus implies a direct comparison with the Villa Savoye.


1996.04.23
regarding the Parliament Building for Islamabad
The Parliament Building for Islamabad recalls the Pantheon and the dome of the U.S. Capitol, and it will be worthwhile to compare these buildings in elevation. The main issue of scale, however, stems from the very large geometric openings of the building. Their size is unlike the size of openings in most other buildings, yet strongly reminiscent of the large baths and basilicas of ancient Rome, and the sections of Gothic cathedrals. The building also recalls Boullée, particularly the entrance cut outs of his later funerary projects.


1996.04.23
regarding the Palais des Congrès
Although the buildings possesses a large footprint, it manifests a shallow profile. The building is essentially a large box raised on pilotis, the same motif as the Villa Savoye and the Governor's Palace. The building is greatly enhanced by two monumental ramps--the entrance ramp and an interior/exterior ramp that connects the main with the upper floor and ultimately with the roof garden. The ramps themselves are of the scale of automobile highway on and off ramps. The other large scale elements on the exterior are the service elevator and the large graphics "embossed" on the elevations of the raised box.
Another scale lesson can be gleamed from the layout of the main level. Here Le Corbusier places many spaces/functions within one grand and open loft space, whereby the entire main floor is composed of many smaller elements, thus creating a microcosm of urban-centeredness. Perhaps the main floor of Strasbourg is a manifestation of Le Corbusier's idea of modern microcosm, i.e., free forms dispersed throughout a Cartesian order. (Perhaps I should reread that "Grid" article in Oppositions.)


1996.04.23
regarding the Wallraf-Richartz Museum
I wonder if the Wallraf-Richartz Museum next to St. Peter's Square would be interesting?   3138q


1996.04.23
regarding Capital Park West
The real scale issue here is the irony of how a car garage can take on such a massive scale, and in many ways is comparable to the repetition of Wanamaker's and perhaps even the Altes Museum. ...makes use of simple shapes and overall patterning and employs them at a super scale, thus simultaneously disguising and exploiting the large scale of the project. ...present all the shorter elevations in front of the parking wall to demonstrate just how large the parking is.
The towers without the parking in front bring up another set of scale issues. Again there is the exaggerated use of simple forms. The stacked tower employs discernible cantilevers and overlarge windows in simple primary shapes. The cantilevers are definitely reminiscent of the PSFS building and the large windows are similar in scale with the PSFS building and the large (window) openings are similar in scale with the PSFS sign. Another comparison with the large windows is with the Parliament Building for Islamabad and this makes me want to generate some perspectives with the Parliament Building for Islamabad within the office park. Another comparison is between the conical tower and Firminy, where both demonstrate an exaggerated use of primal forms and thus somehow fill the eye in terms of scale.
...Capital Park West compared to the Great Pyramid and the Washington Monument. The reason for this is to compare primal shapes wrought large, and I suspect the Pyramid is going to be a tremendous eye opener, as always.

1996.04.23
gigantism of Piranesi's Campo Marzio
...the gigantism of Piranesi's Campo Marzio.
1. ...a specific section of the Campo Marzio and on this plan will be superimposed the plans of the elevational group, spread out as they actually are in the elevational setting. ...also an overlay of the Giza complex.
2. ...a plan of the Parkway area of Center City Philadelphia with the building footprints x-hatched, ...the same scale as the Campo Marzio section.
3. ...the Philadelphia street grid superimposed on the Campo Marzio.
4. ...x-hatched building footprints of Philadelphia superimposed on the Campo Marzio. Where the former drawing demonstrates the relationship between a modern city street grid and the Campo Marzio, this drawing will demonstrate a comparison/contrast between the Campo Marzio and another form of urban density.
5. ...the Viosin Plan of Paris, at the same scale as the Campo Marzio section.
6. ...the Viosin Plan superimposed on the Campo Marzio.


1999.08.26 09:53
Re: empire of light
...scale, which today often goes unrecognized and/or accessed (however, Koolhass via SMLXL has certainly brought the scale issue to contemporary attention, and, of course, Venturi et al have paid close attention to the often overlooked obviousness of comparative architecture scale earlier). We are more used to thinking of scale in terms of physical magnitude/size, and indeed comparative analysis of such scale in architecture (e.g. seeing varieties of building plans at the same scale) is most times revealing of a architectural "dimension" not normally taken notice of. Scale can be a good theme to follow when comparing architecture...


1999.08.29 12:28
empire of light
There is an inter-relationship between magnitude and scale in that scale is used to measure/gauge magnitudes. The most interesting aspect of scale is that it automatically implies at least two entities, namely, the entity being measured and the entity being measured with.

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